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Mining in Karlapat would invite Ecological Disaster

 

Wednesday February 20, 2013

Odisha, Mining, Environment, Livelihood, Ecological Disaster  
 
A number of perennial streams and nalas flow across the area and feed into river Tel, a major tributary of Odisha's largest river Mahanadi. High plateau and waterfalls attract tourists to study and enjoy the nature. The vegetation of the sanctuary along with its perennial water sources influences the microclimate of Kalahandi district. Karlapat boasts for its Elephant population and serves as a crucial elephant corridor in Odisha linking Kotagarh Sanctuary in Kandhamal district with the Lakhari valley sanctuary in Gajapati district.  
HNF Correspondent  
   

While there is a strong movement by primitive tribal groups against mining of bauxite reserved in the Niyamgiri, Odisha Government’s recent move to make a plan for mining of bauxite reserves in the Karlapat Sanctuary area has been strongly condemned by environment and rights activists on the plea that the proposed mining would not only take one of the rich biodiversity towards destruction but would also invite ecological disaster and cause serious trouble for thousands of tribal families who make their livelihood out of the forests and rain fed agriculture. “Handing over a rich biodiversity hotspot like Karlapat to Vedanta Company for mining will bring dangerous disaster to nature and climate and also to the livelihood of tribals” said Prafulla Samantara of Lok Shakti Abhiyan adding that ‘When people are not prepared to sacrifice Niyamgiri it is not possible to destroy more sensitive green spot like Karlapat.’

 

Such a move proves that the government of Odisha is sold out to Vedanta Company and, if it realizes, there would more aggressive people’s struggle to protect Karlapat and Niyamgiri both, Samantara added.

A release jointly signed by Prafulla Samantara and Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) Spokesperson Prasanta Paikray said, “Karlapat sanctuary has 10 Revenue villages and 9 un-surveyed villages with a total population of 1551. The inhabitants are mainly tribal, namely Kandha and Majhi. Rain fed agriculture is the main source of income for these agrarian tribal communities. While Paddy is their major crop, they also cultivate black gram, alsi, maize as cash crops on the foot hills and plateaus of the hills in and around the sanctuary. Many of the communities make a livelihood by collecting hill brooms, bamboo sticks and different minor forest produces like fruits, roots, gums, leaves, fuel wood and small timber for their own consumption as well as to sell in the nearby market. Besides these 19 villages, there are 44 villages adjacent to the Sanctuary. Population of these villages is about 8000. The forest in the sanctuary area provides them with livelihood support as they use to collect fuel wood, bamboo, timber, different minor forest produce, and allow their cattle, goat and buffalos to graze inside.”

“A number of perennial streams and nalas flow across the area and feed into river Tel, a major tributary of the river Mahanadi. High plateau and waterfalls attract tourists to study and enjoy the nature. The vegetation of the sanctuary along with its perennial water sources influences the microclimate of the district. Karlapat boasts for its Elephant population and serves as a crucial elephant corridor linking Kotagarh Sanctuary in Kandhamal district with the Lakhari valley sanctuary in Gajapati district. There are 4 routes (corridors) used by the Elephants as their path for migration,” the release added.

About the uniqueness of Karlapat as a biodiversity and its ecological importance, the release said, “Presence of moist peninsular Sal forests, mixed deciduous forests and bamboo brakes, undulated terrains,, grasslands, caves, numbers of perennial streams, undulated terrains interspersed with valleys, high altitude picks, plateaus, innumerable valleys, has supported myriads of life forms, including some of the endangered mammals like tigers and elephants, Leopard, Wild boar, Giant squirrels, antelopes, Small clawed Otters, Indian Bison etc. listed under IUCN category. So far, three plants namely Carolladiscus lanuginosus, Nymphoides parvifolia, Habenaria barbata reported from Krishnamali and Khandualmali hills situated in the 2-3 km buffer of the sanctuary are new distributional record of occurrence for Eastern Ghats, India. One fungi i.e. Phallus indusiatus, is also new record from Eastern Ghats. These plants are found in Himalayas, China etc.”

Rejecting the idea of mining of bauxite deposits adjacent to the sanctuary area, Prafulla Samantara said, “The mineral deposited plateaus like Khandualmali and Krishnamali are 1-3 km away from the boundary of sanctuary. As per the Supreme Court’s guidelines, which stipulate that no developmental, industrial or mining activities can take place within 10 km of any wildlife sanctuary and National Park. As per recently issued guideline by MoEF, India, and also as per Environment Protection Act, 1986, an area of up to 10 km from the border of any sanctuary or National Park is designated as "eco-sensitive" zone to create shock-absorbers where no developmental or industrial activities are permitted.”

 
 

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