Amid protest over threat to KRS dam, Karnataka preps for trial blasts in Mandya’s sensitive Baby Betta

Activists had urged the government not to conduct any mining in Baby Betta because of the threat it poses to the Krishna Raja Sagar dam.

ByNolan Patrick Pinto

Published Jul 04, 2024 | 7:44 PM Updated Jul 04, 2024 | 7:44 PM

Karnataka government is set to mine Mandya's sensitive Baby Betta once again

As the Karnataka government is all set to conduct trial blasts at the sensitive Baby Betta located in Mandya’s Pandavapura taluk, sources told South First that excavation work is proceeding before the arrival of senior scientists.

Done under tight police security to thwart environmental activists from visiting the place, the excavation work is being conducted in the presence of officials from the Mining, Geology, and Irrigation Department.

It is being stated that trial blasts will be conducted to ascertain whether mining activity impacts the stability of the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam. A team of scientists from the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR) is expected to arrive at the site in the next few days.

Meanwhile, farmers’ associations protested outside the KRS dam, near the main gate, opposing the trial blasts that are set to take place. “Stop the trial blast, save KRS,” slogans were shouted by the farmers.

Reshma, a senior geologist from the Department of Mines and Geology told the media, “There is a High Court order to conduct a trial blast and submit a report. Hence we are drilling to a depth of 20 feet… In a 20km radius, we are drilling in four locations. The KRS dam is just about 5km from the drilling spot. All safety measures have been taken.”

The official chose not to respond to safety concerns claiming that once the report comes out, things will become clear. The report will be submitted by CIMFR scientists.

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The threat to Krishna Raja Sagar dam

A few years ago, protests were organised by farmers’ organisations with the backing of then Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambarish and social activists.

Activists had urged the government not to conduct any mining in and around the area because it will be dangerous to the age-old Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam. The dam was built by Sir M Visvesvaraya and was a gift from the Mysore Wadiyars.

In 2018, a report on the safety of KRS was submitted by then Srirangapatna Sub-Division Deputy Superintendent of Police (DYSP) Vishwanath, following a directive from the then Mandya Superintendent of Police (SP) G Radhika.

The report stated a need to ban illegal stone quarrying taking place in the area, in view of the safety of KRS dam. The report further mentioned several stone quarrying units that were operating illegally at Chinakurali, Baby Betta Kavalu, Amrutha Mahal Kaval, Honaganahalli, Bastipura, Beechanakuppe, Avverahalli and Bannangadi.

A part of the report stated, “As the mining area, the KRS and the villages stand on the single rock platform, the safety of the Dam itself is at stake.”

(Edited by Neena)

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