In a fillip to conservation activities in Sandur taluk, Karnataka High Court has issued notice to mining companies and concerned departments on mining activities around the vicinity of Kumaraswamy temple. In recent years, the biodiversity rich forests of Swamimalai hills have been witnessing rampant mining wherein now – it has reached the doorsteps of the famous 1200-year-old Badami Chalukyan era temple in Ballari district.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed on this issue by devotees, Sandur residents, and environmental activists. A division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi on Thursday issued summons to five mining companies and 12 government departments. The High Court has permitted the respondents to file their responses within four weeks. The five mining companies which are involved in mining activities around the temple’s vicinity include – Nandi Iron Ore Mine, JSW Steel Ltd (687 meters from the temple), Subbarayanahalli Iron Ore Mines, KSMC Ltd (800 meters), Kumaraswamy Iron Ore Mine, NMDC Ltd (1.2 kms), SMIORE (1.4 kms) & MSPL Ltd (402 meters).
The PIL has been filed by Sandur resident and devotee Sreeshaila Aladahalli of Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, M Eranna, Vinayak M, Chandrakanta Vaddu and Vijay Nishanth, tree doctor and urban conservationist.
Seeking protection from mining activities around the Kumaraswamy Temple and preservation of its surroundings in the interest of devotees and public at large, the petitioners have stated, “Continuous mining activity has been causing severe damage to the temple structure and its surroundings. With the air pollution level being very high due to iron ore dust particles, the Temple has been covered in mining dust permanently. Many parts of the temple are in a bad condition and some stone blocks have developed cracks due to continuous blasting during mining activity in the vicinity. Further, the temple gopuram is tilted due to high impact of blasting.”
According to the PIL filed by Advocate Nikhil Kurgod, the temple is situated in Swamimalai Forest Range which is a dense forest area and is the only forest range with wildlife existing in this part of Karnataka. Further, it is a treasure trove of many aromatic and medicinal plants.
The Swamimalai block of Kumaraswamy Reserve Forest in Sandur taluk is known as the Western Ghats of Deccan Plateau. However, mining activity in and around the Parvathi and Karthikeya temple area is polluting the natural water springs, water catchment areas which constitutes primary source of drinking water to the people living in surrounding villages.
It may be noted here that the Parvathi and Karthikeya Temple also known as Sri Kumaraswamy Temple was built during 7th to 8th Century AD and has been declared as a Monument of National Importance by the Central Government. Extending to an area of 2.5 acres and located in the Swamimalai Block of Kumaraswamy Range Reserve Forest, it was declared as a Protected Monument as per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958.
The High Court has adjourned the matter for appearance of the concerned respondents as well as filing of their responses.