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Escalating Ecocide in the Kudremukh National Park

As the Left Bank canal of the Bhadra Reservoir is at a very low elevation of 612m just 11meters above the original river bed level of 601m; immediate threat is anticipated for the beneficiaries of the left bank canal, in the district of Shimoga which is presently irrigating 8300Ha.
Further, it is reliably learnt that the TungaBhadra Reservoir authorities have stated that the capacity of the Reservoir has reduced by around 28%. The possibilities of substantial contribution to the sedimentation of TungaBhadra Reservoir due to mining at Kudremukh cannot be ruled out, mainly due to
Overflow of water during the monsoon - carrying silt downstream to TungaBhadra Reservoir.
Overflow of silt down to TungaBhadra Reservoir from Bhadra Reservoir when the scouring sluice valve is opened at Bhadra Reservoir.
Wildlife First! along with other Wildlife conservation organisations who are signatories to this memorandum, urge the Government to relocate the mining (since the dam cannot be relocated) from the catchment area of Bhadra Reservoir and protect the huge national investment on the Bhadra Reservoir Project which is irrigating a vast area of 1,05,570 Ha of agricultural land with an agricultural output of Rs.727 crores per year. If the Government adopts a blinkered view and allows the continuation of mining by KIOCL, merely based on the meagre economic contribution from mining low grade iron ore, it is sure to cause irreparable damage to the agricultural economy (which is more than seven times the annual profits earned by iron ore mining at Kudremukh) in the Bhadra command area affecting lakhs of farmers in the districts of Chikmagalur, Shimoga and Davanagere.
d) The company KIOCL itself has admitted that there is siltation of Bhadra River and has unwittingly acknowledged that siltation of Bhadra River will be brought down to the barest minimum in the letter dated 16.11.91 by the Secretary, KIOCL addressed to the Chief Engineer, WRDO.
9) We have made a detailed de-silting plan through which we are removing the siltation from the rivers at the sites of mini pollution dams. To arrest mine wash off, we have planted a large number of trees and we have placed several check bunds on the mine slopes. In addition, we are planning construction of mini pollution dams over Kachige Hole and other streams joining the Bhadra river. Through these methods, we assure you, siltation of river Bhadra will be brought down to the barest minimum. We would, however, welcome any further suggestions from your Department to arrest siltation. The KIOCL admitted on 16.11.91.
e) In support of our investigative findings of heavy siltation of the Bhadra Reservoir taking place we would like to place on record the objections filed by the Deputy Conservator of Forests, to the DC, settlement Officer, Chikmagalur, Mangalore and Udupi, vide No. C3/CR/30/KNP/99-2000 dated 30.6.2000. Which reads as follows :-
Exposure of these areas removes the soil cover and disturbs the sited. The already existing mining site is a proof of this as not even a blade of grass grows in the abandoned mined area where the top soil has been removed. (refer also to CES report extracts)
Coming to the issue of mining by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited, the township lies within an enclosure and the actual mining site is within South Bhadra Reserve Forest. The technique of mining is open cast mining using heavy machines. The loss of soil cover is too evident from a mere look at the mined area as well as from the colour of the water of Bhadra river before and after it passes through the mining site. Though technical studies have been initiated to assess the actual extent of soil loss but the facts are too visible to be understated. The use of heavy machinery will lead to soil compaction which can not allow regeneration of the area in any manner.
(a) The Lakhya Dam which was built to collect tailings and also to avoid pollution of Bhadra river had already been filled to capacity in 1984 when the company violated the Forest Conservation Act to raise the height of the dam. This action leads to further submergence of 340 Ha. of good forest 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 require further increase in the height of Lakhya Dam or construction of another dam and further submergence of the forest area outside the mining site.
Point 7 to 10 clearly indicate that even if mining is permitted within the existing lease area, its effects of destruction on forest areas and pollution of the environment are seen all around in far flung area. The soil losses are many fold as this area is a high rainfall area. As stated earlier, the reclamation of this soil or biodiversity will not be humanly possible. The DCF observed.
F) The siltation of Bhadra Reservoir is seriously affecting the environment and the water regime. The onsite disaster management seems to be non-existent and this has resulted in major ecologicaldisasters in the recent past. The damage to spillway of Lakhya Dam in 92 brought in incalculable damage to the ecosystem down stream according to CES report the Lakhya dam has breached several times and the structural stability of the dam needs to verified is emphatically mentioned in the report.

a) The breaking up of the slurry pipes during 3rd week of July 2000 has brought in one of the worst ecological disasters in the History of Karnataka which is evident from the following Newspaper reports
Slurry leak puts KIOCL in spot, Deccan Herald, dated 20.07.2000
The Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) seems to be heading from one controversy to another. while there has been lot of opposition of late to extending the mining lease on environmental grounds, the case of slurry leak at Kanyalu near Karkala has caused much embarrassment to the company.
The adverse impact of the leak is yet to be assessed but already, the slurry has polluted the agricultural fields and the Ennehole stream which flows nearby.
The KIOCL has stopped production and pumping of slurry but it has not been able to repair the damaged pipe so far.
The KIOCL has a 100-km pipeline to transport iron slurry from the Kudremukh mines to Mangalore where it gets converted into iron pellets for export. A couple of days back, the pipeline developed a crack at Kanyalu and the slurry started flowing to the surrounding areas.
KIOCL sources told Deccan Herald that the leakage had been detected at a place which had to be reached on foot.
It is not possible for any vehicle to enter that area. This is bound to delay the repair work. While production has been declared closed for 10 days, the lease license period of the KIOCL, will also expire within four days (July 24), they said.
Residents in the nearby areas said that minor leaks had been noticed from the pipe ever since the rainy season started this year. Had the company acted immediately, the problem could have been solved to a great extent.
Now, there are large deposits of slurry on the fields and the Ennehole stream has been blackened, they said.
Leak in KIOCL pipeline worsens, The Hindu, dated 20.07.2000
The iron ore slurry, leaking from the KIOCL pipeline passing through the dense forests of the Western Ghats, reported yesterday, has worsened and is flowing into the Yennehole river which passes through 23 villages.
In one of the worst ecological disasters, the iron ore slurry has turned the otherwise crystal-clear river into a deep brownish-grey.
The leak, reported on Tuesday, continued unabated throughout the night as engineers from the KIOCL failed to contain the leak. When this correspondent reached the leakage point, the slurry was gushing out from a 2-ft wide hole in the pipeline.
The local people, who were alarmed at the change of the colour of the river, came to know of the leakage and prevented the water from entering their fields. But the greater danger is the threat to wildlife and domestic animals all along the rivers course. The river runs thorough the Kudremukh National park and, according to Government stipulations, destruction of the ecology and water sources inside the national park is punishable by law.
Considering that the Western Ghats as one of 18 ecological hot spots for protection of bio-diversity and that the Worldwide Fund for Nature has recognized this as one of the Global 200 area which needs to be conserved, this ecological disaster has been viewed by the experts as a grave danger to wildlife and agriculture.
The KIOCL which has been trying to get its mining lease extended by the State Government, appears to have bungled badly in this case.
KSPCB slaps notice to KIOCL, seeks explanation
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has issued a notice to the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) seeking an explanation on the iron slurry outflow from the damaged pipe at at Kanyalu near Karkala reported a few days back. The Pollution Board has given four days time to the KIOCL to reply to the notice. The nearby Ennehole stream and agricultural fields have been heavily polluted due to the slurry outflow.
Talking to Deccan Herald, Environment Officer Jayaprakash said the Pollution Board was unhappy because the KIOCL did not inform the Board immediately after the leakage was noticed. We too