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

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