Karnataka HC bans mining activity around KRS dam, pending study

Expressing concern over the mining blasts affecting the Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) dam in Srirangapatna, Mandya, the High Court of Karnataka on Monday imposed a ban on mining and blasting activities within a 20-km radius of the structure.

The ban issued on Monday will be in force till the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad, conducts a dam safety survey. However, the HC has not fixed any deadline for the study to be undertaken under the Dam Safety Act, 2022.

The HC had earlier made the State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS) a party to the petition.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit were hearing a petition filed by one CG Kumar who had challenged the deputy commissioner’s order that conversion of land for stone quarrying would be granted only after a trial blast was conducted by the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited. Kumar had challenged this condition as being illegal.

The petition was however converted to a public interest litigation (PIL) by the HC considering the seriousness of the issue and the concerns over damage to the KRS Dam posed by mining activities surround it.

The HC remarked that three states were fighting over the waters of the Cauvery river but no one was concerned about the safety of the KRS dam. Any untoward incident would have unimaginable consequences for the entire state, the HC said, imposing the ban.

During an earlier hearing of the petition, the HC had taken note of the seriousness of the issue and said in its order, “As per the official information, the Krishnarajasagara reservoir supplies water for the irrigation of about 1,25,000 acres of land in the arid tracks of Mandya district.

“Whether the blast activities that are ordinarily undertaken while carrying on quarrying have potential impact on the KRS dam needs to be examined, whoever be the competent authority to stipulate impugned conditions of the kind,” it said.

The court cautioned that “a small lapse may result in a colossal hazard. Matter involves serious questions relating to the safety of the dam in question, in the light of the provisions of 2021 Act.”

Citing the importance of the dam, the HC had said, “It hardly needs to be stated that the KRS dam is built during the period between 1911 to 1932 as an engineering marvel under the able leadership of the Master Architect and Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya; it was a dream and vision of the great Maharaja of Mysore Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. The said dam has profitably changed the irrigation map of the State.”

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