Ballari's flawed grand plan
Karnataka's ambitious plan to restore the ecology of illegal mining-hit Ballari has no representation from affected communities and environmentalists
India's biggest attempt to restore the ecology of illegally mined areas of Ballari gives communities and environmentalists a miss
Ia mining scam of epic propT WAS ortions that shook the political establishment of Karnataka, put a state Cabinet minister behind bars and forced the chief minister, Bharatiya Janata Party leader B S Yeddyurappa, to quit in 2011. Three years after the Ballari mining scam,the state government—on the insistence of the Supreme Court—has drawn the country’s largest ever cleanup act to restore the ecology and revive the livelihoods of the people of Ballari and neighbouring Chitradurga and Tumkur districts.
But the ` 32,800-crore effort, titled Comprehensive Environment Plan for Mining Impacted Zone (cepmiz), has two fundamental flaws—it does not take the affected communities into confidence and the fund allocation is likely to benefit the industries more than the people.
cepmiz was formed as per the recommendations of the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (cec), which was asked to probe illegal mining in Ballari in 2010. In its October 10, 2012, report,the panel recommended conditional resumption of mining in a majority of leases along with a plan for restoration of environment and livelihoods severely destroyed by mining.
The apex court accepted the recommendations while delivering its judgement on April 18,2014.The state then set up Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation (kmerc) to plan and implement cepmiz. The corporation was notified on June 27 as a special purpose vehicle and will be operational till 2043-44.
But the corporation does not have a single representative from the communities in mining-affected districts. cec recommendations also ask for involvement of ecology and environment experts in the body—a requirement that has been ignored.
Headed by additional chief secretary and development commissioner G Latha Krishna Rao, kmerc comprises bureaucrats and representatives of industry bodies: secretaries of mines, forests, public works, rural development and health, deputy commissioner of Ballari and a representative from the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries.
The state exchequer lost ` 16,085 crore because of illegal mining in Ballari, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts between 2005 and 2010