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Sunday, Apr 21, 2002

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Patkar to support KGF, Kudremukh causes

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Ms Medha Patkar at a press conference in Bangalore.


THE Karnataka Gold Field's (KGF) People's Movement (KPM) and the Kudremukh agitation received a shot in the arm, with the Narmada Bachao Andolan activist, Ms Medha Patkar, taking up both the causes, under the umbrella of the National Alliance of People's Movement.

At a press conference here, Ms Patkar called it "a dead and dry township," and asked the State Government to hold an unbiased enquiry into the KGF-BGML issue. "Provide alternate industrialisation in the areas," she said.

She said that workers in KGF were jobless for the last 13 months, but the court had provided relief of only Rs 4,000 to each of them.

KPM plans to organise a pada yatra by 500 people, walking over 100 km carrying one-lakh signatures to meet the Chief Minister to present their problems. Starting on April 21, the pada yatra will reach Bangalore on April 25.

Among KPM demands are: The Government should create alternate employment opportunities by developing KGF as an industrial city; announce KGF as a tax-free city for the industrial sector; provide pattas for the houses at KGF for mining workers; declare KGF as a separate taluk; take over BGML schools; and provide basic facilities such as electricity, sanitation, drinking water supply and medical relief to the people of KGF.

As for the Kudremukh issue, Ms Patkar said that she would break the law by entering the National Reserve at Kudremukh. She said that the tribals were not permitted to enter the National Reserve although they had a right to the produce of the Reserve.

Residents, environmentalists and activists have been protesting over the mining activities of the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company, which has effected the bio-diversity in the Western Ghats and polluted the fresh water stream. Western Ghats has been declared one of the ecological hotspots of the world. The State Government had denotified some 3,700 hectares in the Kudremukh National park, allowing mining.

The Supreme Court then issued notices to the State Government and the Union Government, asking the Union Government to give reasons for having permitted the mining activities. The Centre has asked the State Government to reconsider its decision to denotify the land.

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