After nearly a year of vacillating over the protection status of Kappatagudda hills in Gadag, the State government has dropped the Forest Department’s proposal to declare the bio-diversity rich area as a wildlife sanctuary.
The Additional Secretary, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment has, in a recent letter, attributed this decision to opposition from the local people and the impact on livelihoods. Kappatagudda has been one of the locations that the mining lobby wished to explore.
However, considering the extent of the ecological damage from reckless mining in Bellary, environmentalists had been demanding steps to protect Kappatagudda, which is better known as the Western Ghats of north Karnataka.
In 2009, the Western Ghats Task Force proposed to the State Wildlife Board to declare 300 sq km of the forest area as a wildlife sanctuary.
At its meeting on March 15, 2013, the sub-committee of the board concluded that it was appropriate to declare Kappatagudda a wildlife sanctuary, and a proposal was submitted to the government to declare 221.82 sq km of forest area as Kappatagudda Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Forests, Ecology and Environment Department had revised the proposal enhancing the total area to 244.10 sq km, including four blocks, and submitted it to the government on September 2, 2013. But, in January 2014, the government further revised the proposal by dropping three blocks and limiting the total area to be declared as wildlife sanctuary to 178.66 sq km.
Condemning the government’s decision, the former chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force Anant Hegde Asisar said that the State was “succumbing to pressure from the mining lobby”.