HD Kumaraswamy
HD Kumaraswamy(File photo | Shriram BN, EPS)

HDK defends allowing mining in Sandur forest

On media reports about felling of 99,000 trees, he said there is no clear information on it.

HUBBALLI: Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Steel HD Kumaraswamy on Tuesday defended allowing restarting of mining activities in the Sandur forest area. He said that to compensate for deforestation of 404 hectares of land identified for mining in the forest, a proposal has been presented before the forest department to afforest 808 hectares.  

He said the Union government approved the proposal sent by the state government in 2016. The state government had allowed a request made by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd (KIOCL) as mining activities were halted at Kudremukh in 2005. A lot of consultation and deliberations were held between the state and central governments before deciding on the project, he added.

Appealing to environmentalists and nature lovers not to oppose the project, he said KIOCL has already deposited Rs 194 crore with the forest department for afforestation activities on an alternative piece of land. On media reports about felling of 99,000 trees, he said there is no clear information on it.

Moreover, trees in 404 hectares of forest area will not be felled in one year as the project period is 40-50 years and the trees will be felled in phases. The entire forest will not be erased at one go. The state government should take action to afforest alternative land and protect biodiversity, he suggested.

‘Learning on the job’

On the portfolios allotted to him, the JDS leader said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had entrusted him with two important ministries, heavy industries and steel, which play a major role in employment generation and the growth of the country’s economy. But he is still trying to learn the functioning of the ministries, he added. Though he has administrative experience as a chief minister, the administration in the central ministry is different. He has been studying the positives and negatives in the ministries to frame clear policies and programmes and will soon inform people about them, he added. He sought a month for a response on Mahadayi and Upper Bhadra projects.

On the fuel price hike by the state government, he said this shows the pathetic financial state of the government. Industry Minister MB Patil himself has said the fuel price has been increased to generate resources for the guarantees. Then, what is the use of offering guarantees to people and snatching money from them, he lambasted.

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