Iron Ore Mining: 1,000 acres of Forest to be cleared in Ballari
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Iron Ore Mining: 1,000 acres of Forest to be cleared in Ballari

April 22, 2021

By Ashvini Ranjan

The recent news about one thousand acres of virgin forest in Sandur, Ballari District, being opened up for mining Iron and Manganese Ore by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd. (KIOCL) is shocking to say the least. 

In all, 99,330 trees are proposed to be felled much against the advice by the Forest Department. Besides the damage to the environment, the mining activity will seriously erode soil, affect water bodies and streams in the area. 

The Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) has further warned the distress the mining activity could cause to the wildlife in the area, leading to even more ‘man-animal conflict.’ 

One begins to wonder the calibre of people who are taking such outrageous decisions. Is it ignorance or is it ‘I give a damn’ attitude of the Government. 

We in Mysuru just witnessed a similar ‘face off’ between the citizens and the Government when the latter wanted to clear twelve acres of biodiversity rich land opposite Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to promote Heli-Tourism. 

The outrage was palpable when close to seventy-five thousand people participated in a signature campaign to denounce the proposal. The embarrassment that it caused the Government seems that it has not learnt its lesson from launching projects that are against the interest of the people and the environment. 

A proposal to set up a ropeway to the top of Chamundi Hill and creating a Disneyland in Brindavan Gardens attracted similar wrath of the people forcing the Government to drop the schemes. 

One fails to understand why our leadership is so disconnected to the sensitivities of its people. It is not difficult to feel the pulse of the people to a scheme or a project before it announces them. 

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The latest proposal to open one thousand acres of forest land to mining Iron and Manganese and destroying 99,330 trees is likely to attract the wrath not just the people of Karnataka and India, but the entire world community. 

With global temperatures rising on account of rapidly depleting forest cover and polluting our oceans and rivers, we are fighting an existential crisis. Our leadership has to join a larger cause than catering to the interests of lobbies and favoured individuals. 

Our Prime Minister has pro-claimed that India will increase the forest cover from the current 22% to 33% by 2030 to tackle climate change as a signatory to the Paris Agreement of 2015. It will be nothing short of a miracle if we could achieve it. But I pray he succeeds. 


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