BENGALURU: The High Court has refused to meddle with the conservation tag awarded to Kappatagudda reserve forest in Gadag district.Hearing a petition by Ramgarh Mines and Minerals Limited (RMML) on Thursday, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice P S Dinesh Kumar refused to quash the notification as sought by the petitioner.
The bench has directed the firm to make a fresh representation for the mining lease in the conservation reserve, but at the same time. has said that the views of the Conservation Reserve Management Committee (CRMC), which comprises of local people and representatives, Forest Department officials and the non government organisations.
“Since it is a protected area, the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) and National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) also have to be consulted. Incidentally, the committee is still not constituted by the Chief Minister and would take a long time for the fresh representation to come up. For now the forest is safe,” said Santosh Martin, a Ballari- based wildlife activist. He was one of those who impleaded as a respondent in the matter.
RMML had contended that the conservation reserve status accorded to about 800 hectare areas should be denotified, as it has been allotted to it for mining, much before it was given a protected status. In his plea, Martin contended that the conservation reserve tag cannot be withdrawn as it is now a protected patch.
Kappatagudda is in the news for last two years after the government’s decision to accord it a protected status.
The region was declared a conservation reserve on December 19, 2015 by the state government. The tag was later on withdrawn on November, 4, 2016 stating that it is not a contiguous patch to any national park or a wildlife sanctuary.
On 11 April, 2017, the government owing to pressure of people of Gadag declared Kappatagudda as a conservation reserve. Accordingly, 17, 872.248 hectares spread across Gadag, Mundargi and Sirahatti taluks of Gadag district was declared as conservation reserve.
Known for medicinal, aromatic plants
Kappatagudda is known for its rich medicinal and aromatic plants. Believed to be a cut off part from the western Ghats amidst the plains, the region is also known for its rich fauna, which comprises of primary predators like Wolf, Hyena, Jackal, Fox and ungulates like black bucks and four horned antelopes. The region is already in the grip of a wind farming company and the mining firms had eyed the region for it is said to be rich in precious metals like gold.