Mysore, Oct 19: Illegal granite quarrying has become a matter of concern at the forest, covering an area of 2,756 sq km, of the neighbouring Chamarajanagara distict, which was famous for precious flora and fauna.
According to a survey conducted by the Department of Mines and Geology, the district was also famous for rich mineral resources, including black granites, asbestos, limestones, building stones and clay.
The department sources told the sources that the district has become a heaven for quarrying, both legal and illegal.
The black granite is used for ornamental purposes. A vertical block of granite stone of standard size could fetch about Rs 50,000 in the international market.
Because of continuous blasting of mine explosives, the environment of the district was adversely affected.
The state government's decision to formulate a comprehensive mining policy to check illegal mining and over exploitation of the state's natural resources was the only ray of hope to environmentalists and nature lovers.
The people, who were living near the forest areas and neighbouring Tamil Nadu, were badly affected by the high frequency sound due to the explosion.
However, the department was considering to issue 'No Objection Certificates (NOC) to 29 applicants to carry out quarrying activities in the 'patta' land (revenue land), near here.
Seven applicants, including businessmen from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, had already secured clearance from the local revenue authorities.
The vast forest areas of M M Hills, Ponnachi, Chengadi, Meenyam, Bylur, K Gudi and B R Hills were dormant for the past 25 years due to quarrying.
However, the quarrying was banned in 1992, because of the alleged nexus between forest brigand Veerappan and quarry owners.
But, after the death of the brigand in october 2004, the government has come up with a plan to resume quarrying, on the basis of a report from the Department of Forest, Mines and Geology.
The Chamarajanagara district has witnessed many agitations and protest marches by various organisations, including Karnataka Rajya Ritha Sangha (KRRS), against the illegal quarrying. Many complaints were lodged in district police stations against the bad impact of quarrying. Deputy Director of Mines and Geology J S Sathish said there were 48 quarrying units operating in the 'patta' land after getting court order and 42 units operating in the government land in an area of over 300 acres in the district. There was no illegal quarrying in the district, he added.
Claiming that it was impossible to run an illegal quarry as the sites had been already identified by the owners of the 'patta' land, he said the sites were protected by the owners.
However, a team of revenue officials had raided illegal quarrying sites at Belavantapura, near the backwaters of Chikkhole and Suvarnavathi reservoirs, recently and seized equipment.
The raid was conducted following the threat foreseen by the Irrigation Department to both the reservoirs in the wake of low intensity blasts around the area.
The people, who were living in the downstream, were worried over the impact of blasts near the reservoir.
There were instances of district administration issuing notices to many quarrying units for illegal procurement of blasting materials.
The forest officials have raised serious objections for allowing quarrying inside the forest areas of Kollegal region. Many quarry units were very near to the elephant migration path, the sources added.
However, the Deputy Forest Conservator (Wildlife Division) had submitted a report to the Centre, seeking a ban on quarrying activities within a radius of 25 sq km of the sanctuary border. The government order in this regard was awaited.
The department has also listed 142 villages where quarrying acitivites were restricted.