In a major crackdown against illegal mining in Karnataka's Mandya, the district administration on Tuesday revoked licenses of 11 mining units and 22 stone crushing units for not procuring environmental clearances from the authorities concerned and not following stipulated norms in carrying out their activities.

An order, issued by the head of the Mandya district Mines and Geology Department, said that at a meeting of the District Task Force (mining) on July 28, it was decided to revoke the licences, with effect from July 31.

Citing provisions of the Karnataka Regulation of Stone Crushers Act 2011, the order added that stone crusher units cannot be permitted to operate within 100 metres of the main road, therefore, the licenses of seven stone crushers units in Babybetta Kavalu in Pandavpura taluk stand cancelled.

KRS dam

Babybetta Kavalu has come under the scanner for the last six months, as Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambareesh had been repeatedly claiming that rampant illegal mining activities in the area are a threat to the almost century-old Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) dam, built across the Cauvery river in Sriranagapattana in Mandya.

In a bid to monitor mining activities, a mobile squad has also been formed and will operate in Pandavapura, Srirangapatna and Nagamangala taluks where quarrying activities are taking place.

Squad to monitor

The squad, comprising personnel drawn from Revenue, Forest, Panchayat Raj, Police, and Mines and Geology Departments, will not only monitor illegal quarrying but also transportation of material.

Apart from this, the district administration has set up 11 new checkpoints across Mandya to keep an eye on illegal transportation of materials from quarries and mines.

The authorities have also identified a few areas in the district as "hot spots" of illegal mining and quarrying, based on the complaints received from local people. Hence these areas have been declared as sensitive and there will be extra vigil by the task force.

These areas include Shimsha river bank, Babbybettakavalu, Channanakere, Ragimuddenahalli, Anekuppe, K. Honalagere, Jakkanahalli, Gowdanahalli, Kalenahalli, Ganamguru, Mudagadore, Hangarahalli, Siddapura, Chinnakurali, Kamanayakanahalli, Shambunahalli, Narahalli, Sangahalli, Gangasamudra, Devarahosuru, Kanthapura, Akkihebbalu, the Hemavathi river bank, and Agasanapura.

Meanwhile, the authorities said that 12 police cases were registered since April 2021 against 119 vehicles that were involved in illegal transportation of mining materials and a fine of Rs 33.73 lakh was imposed.

Illegal mining in Mandya has become a hot topic debate among local leaders over accusations of  patronising illegal mining in the district and linking the activity with the safety of the dam.

Built-in 1924, the dam is one of the oldest structures in the state and the main source of water for Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mandya districts, as well as irrigation for Mysuru and Mandya.