BENGALURU: In an open letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Justice Michael F Saldanha has said that the state government is responsible for the devastation of Bannerghatta National Park, the last remaining lung space of the city.He penned the letter on behalf of concerned citizens of Bengaluru as well as Karnataka. He said that horrifying atrocities such as illegal mining are being carried out in the area with full official sanction.
The former Justice added that a bunch of unscrupulous elements have been destroying the area. They have cut the trees and are exploiting the place 24×7 along with a fleet of over 100 trucks protected by anti-social elements and criminals. “Blasting is being done day and night, animals and all forms of life in the forests are terrorised. What is worse is that all the poor residents of the area find it difficult to come out of their huts because of stones flying around due to the blasting… With police being on the payroll of companies, they even refuse to record complaints and whoever raises their voice is beaten up.” He wrote, “No prejudicial or hazardous activity that would be destructive to the forest, wildlife or people residing in the vicinity can be permitted. It is well settled that a ribbon area of not less than a radius of 20km from the boundary of the national park is not only eco sensitive but also totally protected. In this case, that PA consists of forest land.”
He added, “As the CM of the state, will you answer one simple question as to whether there is a rule of law in Karnataka and if so, how do you explain this state of affairs? Like the illegalities in Ballari, which has destroyed one part of the state and brought shame at the global level, will such illegality be allowed to continue in Bannerghatta? I call upon you to take immediate steps to stop illegal mining in the area.”
He further said, “If permission has been wrongly granted, that permission is void and no rights can be claimed. Nor can it be permitted to continue. Order immediate corrective steps such as enforcement of prohibitory orders banning the entry of anybody belonging to mining mafia, register FIR immediately and arrest those responsible and more importantly take damage control measures to restore the area.”