Stone quarrying poses health threat to jumbos

Monday, 23 July 2012 - 11:08am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
Politicians and government officials speak eloquently about protecting the flora and fauna. But very few translate their words into action.

Politicians and government officials speak eloquently about protecting the flora and fauna. But very few translate their words into action. The long negligence of a government order to protect the area near Bannerghatta National Park from quarrying units is one example.

A Mangappa, former under secretary, commerce and industries department (mines), had issued a notification on January 9, 1991, saying that no quarrying or quarrying lease should be granted to units in the one-km radius around the boundary of the park.  
The area should be preserved as a safe zone for wildlife, the order said.

The order, passed more than 20 years ago, was never implemented due to the alleged nexus between the quarrying lobby and the officials of the mines and geology department and revenue.

Perturbed by human-animal conflict in and around the elephant corridor, Justice Shailendra Kumar, during a recent Lok Adalat, directed the officials of forest, mines and geology departments to ensure that no quarrying activities take place in the one-km radius around the park’s border.

The forest department officials then prepared a long list of illegal quarries around the park. Till date, the authorities have not taken any action to stop the illegal mining. For example, at Mahantalingapura village, there are seven quarries that fall within the one-km radius norm.

“No one is there to stop illegal quarrying around the park. They use gelatin sticks for blasting in the quarries. The noise and dust make elephants go wild and stray into agricultural land and even villages,’’ said a forest guard.
The illegal mining or quarrying activities are going even though the Bannerghatta police station and deputy conservator of forests office are situated near the park.

“We are authorised to remove the quarry equipment or stop quarrying if the quarries are inside the forest. But since all these quarries are in revenue land, it is the duty of the revenue and mines and geology departments to stop quarrying as per the 20-year-old government order,’’ said M Devaraj, deputy conservator of forests, Bannerghatta National Park.
Calls to HR Srinivasa, director, mine and geology department, remained unanswered.

Filter sand menace
The mushrooming of filter sand units is adding to the woes of elephants. The mud separated from the sand through the filtering process is hindering the movement of elephants near water bodies.

There are eight filter sand units in Anekal wildlife zone while Bannerghatta wildlife zone has 29 filter sand units. According to the new sand policy that came into force from April 1, 2011, filter sand units are banned in the state.

After a year, the ban is yet to have an impact on these illegal filter sand units.


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