Crackdown on illegal mining near Gir
Ahmedabad Mirror.com By Dilip Patel
After much delay, officials have taken some action to stop illegal mining near the Gir sanctuary. The district mining department on Saturday filed a complaint against nine people for carrying out mining activities in Alidhar village, which is close to the abode of Asiatic lion.
Following the complaint, the Kodinar police arrested three people and seized mining equipment. "Three people are already in our custody. More arrests will be made in the coming weeks," Inspector G N Zala said. "We take action after the mining department conducts surveys (in affected areas)."
Though the police have filed 15 FIRs over illegal mining so far, this is the first time they have made arrests so quickly. Earlier, they used to dillydally because they were reportedly under pressure from the mining mafia.
In February this year, two senior officials — Royalty Inspector J R Patel and Mines Supervisor D A Prajapati — tried to file a complaint against owners of 13 quarries, but they were turned back.
According to reports, the quarry owners had illegally dug 1.23 lakh tonnes of limestone in villages such as Pinchhava, Vitthalpur, Alidhar and Ghantva, which are close to the protected wildlife area.
The sudden urgency shown by the police to clamp down on illegal mining follows efforts made by Junagadh-based geologist Ramesh Mule and NGO Gir Nature Youth Club to draw senior authorities' attention to the problem.
On June 19 this year, the NGO filed an RTI application to know why the police were not booking owners of illegal quarries. It even filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court, which then ordered immediate action against people involved in the unlawful activity.
According to the deputy conservator of forest (Gir west), illegal digging is underway in 13 villages in Una, Talala and Kodinar talukas, which are located near the border of the Gir sanctuary.
According to this year's lion count, 74 wild cats live outside the protected area. They face the danger of falling into illegal limestone quarries. The state forest and revenue departments have begun land surveys to identify such sites.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Crackdown on illegal mining near Gir
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