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Stone quarries, crushers operating within buffer zone of Bannerghatta National Park

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Bengaluru, Sep 26: In blatant violation of 2006 Supreme Court order, stone quarries and crushers found to be operating within the Bannerghatta Wildlife Zone, according to information provided by the Forest Ministry and Mining and Geology Department.

Stone quarries, crushers operating within buffer zone of Bannerghatta National Park. Pic courtesy: Vijay Nishant

In response to RTI filed by Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF), the Deputy Conservator of Forests revealed that many of these mining operations were functioning well within 1 km of the safe zone and 10 km of the buffer zone.

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As per the RTI, the Forest and Mining Ministry in a joint meeting held in June this year listed the stone quarries and crusher companies which violated rules:

  • 13 stone quarries and 7 crushers operating Mahantanalingapura village within the Bannerghatta Wildlife Zone
  • 6 crushers operating in Shivanahalli Village, Survey number 69 &10 within Harohalli Wildlife Zone
  • 10 stone mines and 8 jelly and m-sand crushers operating in Tamanayakanahalli village within Anekal Wildlife Zone

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In fact, the Supreme Court had directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to instruct states to notify Eco-Sensitive Zones around all National Parks and Sanctuaries. It had recommended default buffer zones of 10 km from the boundaries of the national parks as Eco Sensitive Zone.

Activists alleged that the State Government has failed in protecting the national park by attempting to reduce the ESZ from 268.96 sq km to 181.57 sq km.

Dereliction of duty:

In May, the Principal Chief Conservator Forest (Wildlife) had denied stone quarrying and blasting activities within BNP wildlife Zone in a letter addressed to Additional Chief Secretary, Forest Department. In fact, the issue was raised by former High Court Justice MF Saldanha. However, a month after, the joint meeting between Forest, Mining and Geology Department exposed dereliction of duty by the forest department.

Environmentalists and activists demanded stringent actions against the violators. Also, they urged the Ministry of Environment to constitute an inspection committee and inspect the national park and assess the impact of damage due to mining.

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