Activists have also asked the govt to form an inspection committee to study the Bannerghatta National Park and assess the damage to it due to the illegal mining.

Stop illegal mining near Bannerghatta penalise violators Bluru activists urge govt
news Illegal Mining Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 08:37

After RTI replies revealed rampant illegal mining activities being carried out within the 1 km safe zone and 10 km buffer zone of the Bannerghatta National Park in Bengaluru, environmentalists and wildlife activists have called upon the government to shut down the mining operations and impose strict penalties on mine owners violating the law. 

Activists have also asked the Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) to constitute an inspection committee to study the Park and assess the damage to it due to the illegal mining. 

The activists belong to United Bengaluru - a federation of 1200 Resident Welfare Associations and non-governmental organisations working on civic and environmental issues. 

The response to the RTI filed by Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) to the Deputy Conservator of Forests revealed that a total of 44 mining operations were functioning well within 1 km of the safe zone and 10 km buffer zone. Further, no clearances were issued from competent authorities for carrying out mining operations, in contravention of the MoEF’s guidelines published on August 20, 2014.

Communication between the government officials further shows that senior officials of the Forest Department and Mining and Geology Department were aware of the illegal mining activities in the eco-sensitive zone, but did nothing about it.  

Vijay Nishanth, a Bengaluru-based environmentalist told TNM, “State government must impose full penalties on the mine owners violating the law and must not succumb to the demands of the mining mafia’s call for a one-time settlement for violations as reported in the media.”

The group has also accessed minutes of a meeting between officials from the Forest Department and Mining and Geology Department held on June 14, 2018.

In May, after environmental activists raised the issue of illegal mining being carried out in Thammanaikanahalli, the department commissioned a Joint Survey Report separately for the violations at both Shivanahalli and Thammanaikanahalli villages in the area. The Joint Survey and spot inspection was done by the Mines and Geology Department, the Survey Department and Forest Departments.

List of violations

The violations committed by the miners include disturbances to movement of wildlife in the area, operating within the Safe Zones and Buffer Zone, diverting natural flow of water and contaminating water. Not only wildlife, but Inhabitants of the villages around the illegal mining units have also suffered due to pollution and are allegedly being threatened by the mining mafia. 

Currently, all mining activity in the state has been temporarily stalled due to insistence of the Karnataka High Court. 

The Lokayukta had also taken suo motu cognisance of the violations earlier this month and ordered a status report from the agencies concerned. 

Recently, it also came to light that the state government had let the draft notification to declare the park as an eco-sensitive zone expire and failed to respond to the Centre’s request to republish the notifications. 

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