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Escalating Ecocide in the Kudremukh National Park
Chapter 1b

In the 27th meeting of the State Technical Advisory Committee (Soil Conservation) held on 29.8.89 it has been brought out by the Chief Engineer, Irrigation Central Zone, Munirabad that in view of the Kudremukh Iron Ore Works, siltation has increased in the Bhadra river below the Lakhya Dam. The committee had decided that the Director, Karnataka Engineering Research Station, Krishnarajanagar to prepare a Technical Report (based on the Sedimentation data bringing out the details collected by Water Resources Development Organisation and K.E.R.S.)
The Secretary, M/s. Kudremukh Iron Ore Co. Ltd., in his letter-dated 16.11.91 has assured to take up any remedial measures suggested by the Irrigation Department to arrest siltation, in order to prevent silt getting into Bhadra river, Kudremukh Iron Ore Co. Ltd., may have to explore the possibility of putting up as many smaller dams as possible in their leased area and recover the silt (Iron Ore) at the end of rainy season as is being done in 2 major valleys at present.
In may also desirable to stipulate a condition that Kudremukh Iron Ore Co. Ltd., should monitor every month water of Bhadra river at the entry and exit of their lease area to ensure that silt levels downstream is not exceeding the levels recorded at upstream. The results can be sent to W.R.D.O. every month.
The KIOCL is paying water cess, to the Pollution Control Board under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, which is an act to provide for levy and collection of cess on water consumed by persons carrying on certain industries and local authorities, with a view to augment the resources of the Central Board and State Boards for prevention and control of water pollution.
The Chief Engineer concluded
In this context it has to be noted that the lease agreement signed on 24.7.69 between the Government of Mysore and NMDC Ltd. (later KIOCL) transfered to 1979 vide mining lease 909/69-70 dated 24th July 1969 which reads as follows :
The lessee/lessees shall pay the rent, water rate and royalties reserved by this lease at such times and in the manner provided in PART V and VI of these presents and shall also pay and discharge all taxes, rates, assessments and impositions whatsoever being in the nature of public demands which shall from time to time be charged assessed or imposed by the authority of the Central and State Governments upon or in respect of the premises and works of the lessee/lessees in common with other premises and works a like nature except demands for land revenues.
The KIOCL is trying to hoodwink the Irrigation authorities by refusing to pay the water rates as per the irrigation act, under the pretext that it is paying cess to the Pollution Control Board under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act). These two are separate Acts and the company ought to have honoured both the Acts. The company has continually refused to pay the water rates, even after repeated demands from the authorities, thereby violated the Irrigation Act. Even demands made by Executive Engineer, Bhadravathi, in his demand dated 24.7.98, was turned down by the company under the above pretext in its reply dated 1.10.98.
c) Violation of Sec. 2 of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. The company has flagrantly violated Sec 2 of the Forest Conservation Act on several occasions. Some of the violations are narrated below :
i) The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Kudremukh Wildlife Division, Karkala, in her objections vide letter No. C3, CR/30 dated 30.06.2000 (Annexure) to the Deputy Commissioner and settlement officer, Chikmagalur, Mangalore and Udupi has clearly brought out the violation of Forest Conservation Act by the KIOCL as follows :
The Lakhya dam which was built to collect tailings so as to avoid pollution of Bhadra river had already been filled to capacity in 1984. The company then went ahead illegally and raised the height of the Lakhya dam in the process violated the Forest Conservation Act. This illegal act lead to the further submergence of 340 Ha. of pristine shola forests area outside the area leased to the Company. In its present situation, this dam may be useful for 5-6 years only when it will be full to its capacity. Further mining would necessitate removal of impounded tailings or further increase in the height of Lakhya Dam or construction of another dam and further submergence of the forest area outside the mining site, concluded the DCF.
ii) The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in this letter No. A5(B3/GFL.CR.231/92-93 dated 17.9.1997 to the Principal Secretary to the Government, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment had brought the following facts to the notice of the Government and demanded prosecution of the KIOCL for the violation of the Government order as follows :
M/s. Kudremukh Iron Ore Co. Ltd., have increased the height of Lakhya Dam submerging the additional forestland of 340 ha without obtaining the prior approval of Government of India. This is a clear case of violation of the Section 2 of the Forest Conservation act and it attracts penalty. The violation of the provisions of Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 has been brought to the notice of the Company, but the Company is not honouring the Government Orders and have not acted upon them. A chance of hearing was given to the Company and the Government of India was moved to accord expose facto approval. But, the Government of India in its letter dated 13-3-97 has asked the State Government to fix the responsibility for violation. In the present case the management of M/s. Kudremukh Iron Ore Co. Ltd., is responsible for the violation. Though the Company has been intimated and requested to pay the cost of normal & penal compensatory plantation of Rs. 3.06 crores, the Company has not paid the same. Also the Company is requested, to pay an amount of Rs. 5.00 crores for the development of Kudremukh National Park in the Government Order when the forest area of Nellibedu was leased for prospecting of Iron Ore by the Company. The Company has hardly paid Rs. 1.00 crore. The Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation has raised plantations in areas falling within the National Park by investing huge amounts. Though the plantations are due for harvest, the Chief Wildlife Warden has not accorded the permission for extraction and the plantations in the national park will be retained. The Karnataka Cashew Development corporation is entitled to receive the cost on plantations to the tune of Rs. 3,31,17,203/-. The Government decided to pay this amount after recovering the same from M/s. Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd., as the raising of plantations have lead to development of the National Park. The Company had been requested to pay this amount through Demand Draft drawn in favour of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore, but, it is regretted that the Company has not responded inspite of several promises and phone calls to the company Secretary of M/s. Kudremukh iron Ore Company Ltd., This is a clear violation of the Government Order as the Company has failed to pay the amount.
In view of the above, the following actions are required to be initiated against the Company.
1. Prosecution of Management of the Company for violation of Forest (Conservation) Act in increasing the height of Lakhya Dam and submerging the additional forest area to the tune of 340 ha.
2. Cancellation of the Mining Lease No. 909 as a penal action and not to renew the lease thereafter which will expire on 24-7-99.
3. The Dam height is to be reduced to recover the additional forestland submerged to the extent of 340 ha.
4. Recovery of cost of vegetation submerged due to increase in height of Lakhya Dam.
5. Any other action the Government deems fit.
However, before the lease is cancelled an opportunity of being heard needs to be given to the Company. In this connection the Government had already issued the show cause notice to M/s. Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd., in its letter dated 30-5-96 and the Companys reply dated 15-7-96 is received by the Government. Further, the Company has been issued the notice vide this office letter dated 5-5-97 which is self - explanatory and in response to this, the Company has replied vide its letter dated 20-5-97. Replies furnished by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd., that no violation of the forest Rules has been committed and Companys request to withdraw the demand for payment of Rs. 3.06 crore towards the cost of normal/penal compensatory plantation (3 times to 340 ha. additional forest area sub-merged due to increase of Lakhya Dam height) cannot be accepted. Further, clarification asked by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd., in its letter dated 30-5-97 has also been replied by this office letter dated 30-6-97.
Since, the Company has not paid the cost of compensatory afforestation of Rs. 3.06 crore and has also failed to pay Rs. 3.31 crore as explained above towards development of Kudremukh National Park, there is no need for further notice and the Company may be proceeded against straight way. Early action is requested in the matter. The PCCF concluded.
iii) The Chief Engineer upper Tunga Project, Shimoga dated 25.4.1998 to the Engineer-in-chief, WRDO, Bangalore, had remarked as follows : (while disposing off the application from KIOCL for building dam across Kachigehole)
7) No action taken by the M/s. KIOCL in effecting compensatory afforestation as per Forest Conservation Act, are not forthcoming in the correspondence.
In reply the KIOCL had mentioned as follows we have already taken up with the forest department to enumerate the trees which are going to be submerged and also seeking their clearance for the project
The PCCF has contradicted this in his letter 12.9.97 and has even recommended prosecution of the company.
After obtaining the reply
The Chief Engineer had even remarked Before according clearance from the department, KIOCL has to be insisted to take clearance from State Environment and Ecology Department, and the KIOCL has to take compensatory afforestation as per Forest Conservation Act.
d) Violation of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.
While according environmental clearance for expansion of KIOCL project, on 18.10.1993 and also granting approval for prospecting lease of 310 ha of forest land in one corner of the Kudremukh National Park (Nellibeedu deposit) on 30.5.94, the authorities and the company have not followed the procedures laid down in Notification I, S.O. 85(E) dated 27.01.92 and also notification II, S.O 60E dated 27 Jan 1994, under Environment Protection Act, 1986.