N Manjushree, the deputy commissioner of the district of Mandya in the south-western Indian state of Karnataka, plans to announce a ban on stone mining and quarrying in the region, according to the Star of Mysore.
Manjushree chaired an emergency meeting on Wednesday following a report from the Karnataka State Natural Disasters Monitoring Committee (KSNDMC), which stated that the explosions used in local mining operations were damaging the foundations of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam. The dam, which began operations in 1938, provides drinking and irrigation water to the districts of Mysore and Mandya, and the KSNDMC raised concerns that damages to its structure could cause its 1.3 million cubic metre reservoir to burst into populated areas.
Manjushree is expected to announce the ban by Saturday, which will prohibit all stone mining and quarrying operations within 15-20km of the dam. While the KSNDMC’s daily report for 11 October reported no rainfall in the district, compared with the expected daily total of 6mm, the destruction of the dam could damage existing local water sources.
The decision was supported by president of the Raitha Sangha district Suresh Shambunahalli. “We have fought for more than 20 years to protect KRS Dam and have been behind the authorities to stop mining activities around the Dam that is the lifeline of the region,” he said. “Now the DC has decided to impose a blanket ban. Our only concern is that the ban should not be eyewash.”
Reports of illegal stone quarrying projects in the region, which uses unlawful high-intensity explosives, also reached Manjushree and her officials.
The operations are also in violation of section 144 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits people from congregating in groups of more than four people; section 144 has been in force in a 20km radius around the dam to discourage large-scale mining projects and protests that could damage or disrupt the dam’s operations.
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Manjushree also formed a task force, headed by the leaders of the departments of revenue, forests, mines and geology, to prepare a report on the damage caused by mining activities to the dam.