• DRDO gets notice for felling trees

  • Alarming rise in pollution in Hutti, Kota

  • DRDO gets notice for felling trees

    THE TIMES OF INDIA [22 JULY, 2002]

    NEW DELHI: The deputy conservator of forest (DCF), west Delhi, has issued a notice to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for felling about 25 trees in the cantonment area. A forest official said the trees had been cut at Kirby Place without permission.

    The notice has been issued to S K Gilani, DRDO’s chief engineer. Confirming this, DCF, west Delhi, Suresh Chander said the department was awaiting a reply.

    The notice alleges that DRDO has violated the Tree Preservation Act of 1994, which makes it mandatory for any land-owning authority in Delhi to seek permission from the DCF or the conservator of forest before felling trees in the city.

    DRDO deputy chief engineer Devender Pal Makar refused to comment, though he confirmed that the notice had been received.

    Defending DRDO’s move, P K Das, assistant estate officer of Delhi Cantonment Board, said the trees had fallen during a squall. He added that since the land in question was governed by a separate Act, it was in any case not mandatory to seek the DCF’s permission.

    Refuting Das’ claim that the trees were uprooted during a squall, a forest guard said he learnt about DRDO’s plan to fell the trees to make way for buildings when he was on an inspection in the area.

    He alleged that while some trees had been cut, the roots of others had been weakened. ‘‘Pits have been dug around some trees, damaging the roots. They will fall anyway,’’ the guard said. He even alleged that the stumps of the felled trees had been covered with sand to hide evidence.

    The trees cut included peepal, shisham and siris. According to the tree preservation Act, the DCF can clear felling of up to 100 trees. To fell more than 100 trees, permission will have to be sought from the conservator.

    ‘‘Before granting permission, we have to establish the purpose for felling the trees. The area is surveyed to see if another alternative site is available for the same purpose,’’ said the officer. If the permission is granted, the land-owning agency has to give an undertaking to plant an equal number of saplings at another site. A fine of Rs 10,000 per centimetre of the tree’s width is levied for felling trees without permission. If any land-owning agency fails to pay the fine, it can be taken to the court.


    Alarming rise in pollution in Hutti, Kota

    THE HINDU [22 JULY, 2002]
    By D.K.Kishan Rao

    Raichur July 21. The release of industrial effluents, containing poisonous organic elements such as cyanide and arsenic, into the open area around Hutti Gold Mines Company Limited (HGML) at Hutti and Kota villages in Raichur District appears to have reached dangerous levels. As a result, the water in the nearby nallahs and in the Krishna has been reportedly contaminated and the vast fertile land around the area rendered unfit for cultivation.

    The HGML, a premier gold producer in the country, produces three tonnes of gold per year. But it also generates millions of tonnes of tailings containing toxic elements with a mix of sulphide matrix incorporating copper, lead, zinc, and cobalt. The cyanide and other toxic elements are produced largely after processing the gold and the poisonous effluents of this process are released into the open.

    The gold ore found in sulphide form is disseminated within the pyritic and arsenopyritic minerals and finally treated by cyanide solution, a poisonous element, to extract gold particles. After the gold processing, more than 95 per cent of the ore is produced as waste, called tailings, and is dumped in the open area. Over the years, a hillock of such tailings has formed near the mine.

    But the spread of particles of such tailings in the surrounding areas may pollute the environment. Such deadly poisonous particles may be blown into the air or mixed with water in the nearby nallas and rivers. Inhaling this air or drinking the contaminated water can cause death. The company had constructed a compound wall around the dump to check the spread of toxic materials. But the effluents are flowing out of the compound wall, which has collapsed at many places.

    On the other hand, a huge quantity of slurry is released into the nearby fields through pipes. During floods, these effluents are carrid into the river system, affecting the fertility of hundreds of acres of land.

    About a stretch of 100 metres of the compound wall has been damaged. The authorities concerned have neglected this, resulting in heavy leaks of effluents into the surroundings. Already more than 100 acres of fertile land has been affected with the flow of effluents in Hutti and Kota villages. In addition to this, effluents are flowing into the Kota nallah and are reaching the Krishna.

    Such polluted water is consumed by villagers and supplied to the employees of the company. The consumption of highly contaminated water with toxic elements will invite respiratory and heart diseases and can cause cancer. However, the authorities have failed to plug the leaks and even the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board appears to have closed its eyes to this glaring irregularity. Surprisingly, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which are engaged in conservation activities, have failed to highlight this aspect.

    Since 1999, farmers have been demanding that the company initiate measures to plug the leak of effluents and pay compensation to them for loss of fertile land. They have even demanded jobs in the company as part of the compensation.

    The Revenue authorities too had submitted a report to the company endorsing the complaints of farmers and recommended payment of compensation. They had asked the management of the company to plug the leaks of effluents.

    However, the company allegedly released a paltry compensation to a few farmers. Also, it is apparent that it did not take any steps to plug the leaks of effluents into the surrounding lands. Now, farmers have decided to stage protests in support of their demands.