Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Govt panel decries mining near Gir

Govt panel decries mining near Gir
Times of India

A high-level official report, prepared by the Gujarat Ecology Commission, has taken strong exception to unprecedented mining activities bordering the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Submitted to the Gujarat government, the report says, "The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the few examples of mining violation being carried out within protected areas even though mining has been banned under the Wildlife Conservation Act."

The report - which top government officials say is in its "draft stage", has still not been "finalized" and therefore cannot be "fully trusted" as the official view - adds, "The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and the National Park in Gujarat, the only home to the Asiatic lion, have 100-odd mines within a 10-km radius of the protected area."

Titled "State of Environment Report 2011 on Land", the report says that such mining activity has a "direct impact on biodiversity loss", adding, "The waste materials that remain after the extraction are dumped on the surrounding land, thus causing loss of top soils, nutrients and supportive micro and macro flora." It underlines, "Out of the total forest land cleared for mining in the country, Gujarat has diverted nearly 10.2 per cent of its forest land for mining purposes."

Also taking exception to mining in the coastal region, the report says, "The coastal region of Gujarat stretching from Kutch to the district of Bhavnagar contains large deposits of limestone. These stones act as barriers between sea water and underground water of the land." It regrets, however, "In the recent past, the Gujarat government has granted mining lease and license to several mining companies for quarrying miliolite limestone."

Giving data of soil erosion, the report, quoting an internal report of the Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell, run by under supervision of the Gujarat government, says that Gujarat accounts for one of the highest areas of saline soil in the country. "Gujarat comes next only to West Bengal in total extent of salt affected soils. It comes to 59 per cent of the reported salt affected areas in the state and 21 per cent of the total coastal saline soil of the country", it points out.

Quoting the cell's 2010-11 report, the report says, in all, 1,105 coastal villages have been affected by salinity, which accounts for 10.65 lakh ha area of the country, and 1,125 km of length. These include 166 villages of Bhavnagar-Una range, 120 villages of Una-Madhavpur range, 425 villages of Madhavpur-Maliya-Miyana range, and 360 villages of coastal Kutch.

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