Country's chief auditor calls for a comprehensive study on impact of mining on people, livelihood before grant of leases
An audit report for 2011-12, published by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, on the impacts of indiscriminate iron ore mining in Karnataka’s Bellary district has revealed increasing incidence of diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and other respiratory disorders among local communities. Mining has also adversely impacted livestock population and area under cultivation and irrigation.
The report—Controls and System for Sustainable Mining in Karnataka—has noted that mining has caused high levels of air pollution. This observation was based on the air quality data for 2007-2010 provided by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. The levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and suspended particulate matter (SPM)—two pollution indicators—have increased considerably in the three talukas in Bellary district. RSPM levels range between 103 to 1,119 micro gram/ cubic metre (µg/m3) while SPM levels ranged between 201 and 1,195 µg/m3. The permissible limits for RSPM and SPM are 100 µg/m3 and 200 µg/m3.
The report observes that in Hospet taluka, where mining was rampant, the number of people with respiratory diseases increased to10,369 in 2010 from 9,706 in 2006. The situation is worse in Sandur taluk. Here the respiratory disorders rose to 20,251 from 14,902. In the same period, people with TB increased to 95 from 45 in Hospet, and in Sandur, number of people with TB rose to 88 from 46.
Mining has a severe impact on the livestock, too, says the report. The 18th Census of livestock conducted in 2007 by the district animal husbandry department has registered a fall in the growth rate of the populations of cattle compared to the 17th survey conducted in 2003. The reasons were decrease in availability of grazing land due to mining, nutritional deficiency disorders due to non-availability of quality fodder, high manganese content in water and soil, contamination of water sources and fodder with toxic material used during mining and increased susceptibility to diseases of respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems, notes the report.
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