Wait gets longer for socio-economic programmes in mining areas

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Priority to be given to laying of conveyor belt system, rail sidings, before CEPMIZ

The wait for people in the mining-ravaged districts of Ballari, Chitradurga, and Tumakuru to get relief under the Comprehensive Environment Plan in Mining Impact Zone (CEPMIZ) is getting longer, with the Supreme Court Bench recently underlining the need for the State government to accord priority for creation of infrastructure facilities before taking up socio-economic programmes.

So, priority will be given to works such as laying of conveyor belt system, rail sidings, and railway sub-lines before taking up any socio-economic measures under CEPMIZ.

The court observed that socio-economic measures can be taken up only after basic infrastructure issues such as open movement of iron ore by road — are first addressed. “It is only after controlled and regulated movement of iron ore is achieved that the other socio-economic measures should be undertaken so as to produce meaningful results,” the court observed.

Indeed, hundreds of lorries continue to ply on the roads causing air and noise pollution and affecting health, environment and ecology. Apart from that, the number of fatal accidents, particularly in Sandur taluk, has been on the rise, forcing the residents to stage roadblocks demanding ban on movement of iron ore during the day.

“We will be taking a delegation to the State government and also to Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation (KMERC) to urge them to chalk out a time-bound plan for getting infrastructure facilities created for movement of iron ore so that the other socio-economic measures of the plan could be implemented at the earliest,” said Srishaila Aladahalli, secretary of Jan Sangram Parishat.

S.R. Hiremath, president of the Samaj Parivarthan Samudaya, petitioner in the cases of illegal mining, said there was no dearth of funds to take up rehabilitation. “However, we also acknowledge the court’s priority for creation of infrastructure, including the laying of the conveyor belt system, rail sidings, and railway sub-lines before taking up other socio-economic measures.”

CPEMIZ, prepared as per the direction of the Supreme Court, was expected to bring in change by restoring the damaged caused to the environment, ecology and public health in the areas ravaged by large-scale mining activities in these three districts.

A sum of ₹7,000 crore, which is 10% of the total sale proceeds of iron ore collected and set aside for the purpose, is readily available, and the KMERC, constituted by the State government to act as Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is awaiting the go-ahead from the apex court.

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