Karnataka’s iron ore-rich Ballari district has been through various phases of mining activity, which, over the years has taken a toll on the environment, jobs, and people’s health in the region.
The locals complain that the government had ordered the mining companies to follow rules and guidelines to minimize negative impacts on the surroundings, but most of the companies defy those laws.
Chandrashekar Meti said this is because there is no proper supervision and government officials only look at it as an opportunity to generate more revenue and totally neglect the repercussions that it can have on the environment and people.
“After the Supreme Court banned illegal mines, the employees who worked in mines lost their jobs. Some even went to court to claim settlement from the mining companies, but they weren’t successful. Many people are now working as daily wage laborers, farmers and other temporary workers to earn their living,” he said.
“People are living in blue tents near Hosapete and they are suffering from dust pollution every day with serious respiratory diseases. The production of mining has increased, more mining companies have now come, but there is no employment for the people in Ballari, and this is the sad reality,” he added.
T.M. Shivakumar, an advocate and the state committee member of the Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, a Karnataka-based NGO, said that the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had issued guidelines for the resumption of mining activities in the state. The mines were distinguished as A, B, and C category by the CEC, with C-category mines being the ones where almost all the rules and regulations were violated and so their mining operations were stopped by the Supreme Court. The B-category was given to mines that had minor violations and A-category was given to mines that had no violations, he said.
“The CEC had stated that the mining companies have to minimize the environmental impact by planting saplings near the mining areas and to restore the land after the mining is done and the air and water pollution should also be taken care of by the mining companies, but these guidelines are not followed by almost all the mining companies,” Shivakumar told