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Escalating Ecocide in the Kudremukh National Park

Chapter IV
Other Related Issues to KIOCL Mining in KNP
i) Issues relating to workers compensation
The management and workers of KIOCL were aware that the mining lease was to expire by July 1999 as per the original lease deed executed between the July 1999 as per the original lease deed executed between the Government and the company on 24th July 1969.
After the area was declared as a National Park in 1987, it was amply certain that the mining had to end atleast after the lease period.
In the temporary extension permission also the Government has clearly indicated that the permission will not be any commitment on part of Central Government for final approval of renewal.
As closure of the mine was imminent, it is the onus of the company to have made prior arrangements to rehabilitate its workers, by shifting them to alternate sites or diversification of business.
ii) Democratic process strangulated!
In March 2000, A directive was sent from the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) to the chief Secretary of Karnataka government to :-
a) Freeze all procedures of formalizing / legalizing the declaration of Kudremukh as a National Park.
b) Renew the existing mining licence of Kudremukh Iron Ore Company, unconditionally and prepare De-notification of all the additional areas demanded by KIOCL. (This includes Gangrikallu and Nellibeedu, which are considered as Sanctum - Sanctorum of the National Park and the Bhagavati forest block through which the KIOCL, Ore Slurry pipeline passes through)
c) Declare other areas except the above as reserve forest.
There was a lot of pressure on the officials to fall in line with the PMOs directive and there have been letters written by Central Ministers of Mining industries, Shipping and Commerce, urging the officials to fullfil the PMOs directions.
The PMOs directive has paved the way for renewal of the lease for a further period of 20 years. Officials scurried around with files for clearance, without following the stipulated legal frame-work and environment clearance procedures. Newspaper reports have said that the Karnataka Government has already given a no objection certification and forwarded the proposal to the Central Government for renewing the mining licence for a further period of 20 years.
It is unfortunate that our democratic set up was held at the swords point and compelled to buckle under such extra-constitutional directives.
iii) KIOCLs duplicity in interpreting the satellite data.
KIOCL has even tried to deceive the authorities by interpreting satellite data to the companys advantage, an evidenced by a paper entitled Ecological monitoring of Kudremukh iron ore mine area using multi temporal satellite data published in NNRMS Bulletin, 1997, (two of the four authors are from the KIOCL!)
This paper admits that forest areas have been lost. The conspicuous absence of mines, very limited surface water and predominant grasslands are evident in the pre mine scenario (1973). The 1988 satellite data whereby the mining activity has already been started clearly shows loss of forested area and expansion of mine and surface water. The land cover changes around 6 km radius of project area in terms of loss of forests and development of now agriculture due to increased human activities as an associated changes of mining establishment can be clearly seen.
However, the authors have interpreted that The overall analysis of the mine lease area and the satellite data revealed positive development in the growth of plantations and conservation of landscape structure of the area as part environmental management measures undertaken.
The IISc study team have also examined this paper and have offered their comments as below :
e) Unfortunately, this afforestation of the grasslands with the exotic species to compensate for the areas broken up by the mining activity has been seen by some to be positive development. Indeed, we are amazed to read a report by Murthy et al. (1997) in which remote sensing techniques have been used to conclude that Out of the total mine lease area, 21.41% and 17.54% has undergone positive (emphasis ours) and negative changes respectively during 1973- 96 with 61.04% area remaining unchanged. This indicates a net positive development in the area over 23 years (emphasis ours). A closer examination shows that the grasslands have been termed as wastelands and their afforestation with exotics termed positive development as opposed to the negative development of open cast mining in the rest of the area. We fail to understand how there can be any positive development in a region where a large area has been completely broken up by open cast mining and continues to remain in this state.
Refer to photograph No. 7
KIOCLs interpretation of satellite data!
Certainly KIOCL does not need a satellite image to examine a large wound on its own belly !
iv) Fishy Role of Pollution Control Board
On receipt of the news about damage to the slurry pipe, which resulted in spillage of 4,000 tones of Iron Ore concentrate, into the surrounding fields and Kannalu stream and Yennehole River, the TAC of the board visited Noorai Betta and Khadri village on 30.7.2000 and reported as follows :
The investigation team had demanded the Pollution Control Board on 30.7.2000 for a copy of the TAC Report and the Member Secretary of Pollution Control Board has sent the following note on 21.10.2000 - About 100 kms pipeline was laid from Malleswara to Mangalore to carry Iron Ore slurry and it is parallel to Kanyalu stream. The Kanyalu stream finally joins to river Yennehole. The pipeline laid area comes under reserved forest. The TAC subcommittee observed that, the Iron Ore deposits on the banks of the stream and river bed. Since the density of slurry is more than water and as slurry is not water soluble, the slurry has deposited at various places in the river course. There is no possibility of affecting water quality. The subcommittee has observed that there is no fish mortality. Existence of fish life in the riverine system is observed.
The water quality analysis report of the Board indicates that there is no adverse impact on river water quality due to the mishap. The subcommittee also observed that, the problem is limited to aesthetic pollution and may not cause adverse effect on river water quality.
To counter this complacement statement of the Pollution Control Board we reproduce the following text from the Indian Institute of Science, Rapid Assessment Report
Page 27 para 4 - IISc., CES Report)
The iron ore slurry pipeline passing through the western slopes is mostly underground. But this has also opened up many road approaches through the evergreen forests for the maintenance of the pipeline at different locations. Recently there were several incidents of leakages in the iron-ore slurry pipeline. The spread of iron ore slurry leakage is estimated to be at least 100 ha along the slopes of the forest and the rivulets down stream. The pipeline has leaked 5 times within a span of 3 years; around 4000 tonnes was leaked into the forest during each leakage. Repairing and laying of a new pipeline to bye pass the damaged pipes obviously causes some damage to the forests of Kudremukh National Park.
Page 20 para 3,4,5 and 6 (IISc. - CES Report)
Although the mining area (Kudremukh, Bhadra Nellibeedu) is ideal for the torrential fish species like the loaches and sucker catfish, their absence is obvious (Table 3.6.1). This could be attributed to the disturbances to the habitat. These fishes prefer substrates such as boulders, bedrocks and cobbles with fast to moderate flow rate. The food items of these fishes consists of filamentous algae adhered to the above mentioned substrates. The sediments from the mining operations plugs the crevices between .he pebbles, cobbles and boulders, suppressing the algal growth. This reduces the availability food resources for loaches and sucker catfishes. The species encountered in the Kudremukh mine area are Nashs barb (Osteochilichthys nashii), Boopis razor belly (Salmostoma boopis), Jerdons carp (Puntius jerdoni) and Pseudaambassis ranga. These species are known to tolerate turbidity and even high amount of dissolved solids in the water (Easa & Basha 1995).
From the Bhadra river (near the mining area) only two species were encountered, Giant danio (Danio aequipinnatus) and Mullya garra (Garra mullya). These two species were collected far ahead of the confluent zone of the effluent channel from the factory with the river. A high biological turbidity coupled with the slow rate of flow could be the reason for low diversity in the site. The presence of Garra here inclines is indicative of this river possibly having been inhabited by similar forms such as Ballitorine loaches, and sucker catfishes. The current disturbance in the habitat might have caused local disappearance of these pollution-sensitive species.
In Lakhya Hole, four species were recorded (Puntius fasciatus, Barilius bendelisis, Nemachilichthys ruepelli and Nemachilus anguilla). At this site, an isolated pool with clear water is inhabited by the 4 fish species but the adjacent area with turbid water and accumulated sand is absolutely without any fish species.
At Kachighole, a valley slated for another dam to retain mining wastes, it is noteworthy that the torrential habitat supports Deccan mahseer (Tor khudree), regarded as a highly endangered species (CAMP 1998).
Graph reproduced from CES Report
Finally, we have reproduced pic 11, showing the Yennehole stream inside Kudremukh National Park, filled with Iron Ore slurry during the leakage of pipeline in July 2000, which clearly shows thick black knee deep concrete like slurry in the river.
It is impossible for any fish to survive under such utterly disgusting and obnoxious conditions. Yet the Karnataka Pollution Control Board was too pleased to confer the super par-executive certificate to the KIOCL.