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THE Karnataka government seems to
have turned a blind eye to the Forest
Conservation Act, 1980, while authorising district forest officers to grant
leases for quarrying in forest lands
across the state. Until recently, the
mines and geology department had the
sole controlling authority for issuing
quarrying licence in the state. Recently,
the department had taken severe steps
to restrict illegal granite quarrying all
over the state. Apparently, the government bowed to pressures from the
powerful granite mining lobby.
The state government's decision was based an a cabinet note stating that the curbs were affecting the employment of hundreds of people in the forest-dominated Uttara Kannada district and that all construction activities in the district had come to a halt. But a survey conducted by the mines and geology department found that there were enough quarrying sites in non-forest lands in the state which could keep up both construction activities and sustain the work force depending on it.
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