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Gujarat lignite mines contaminating river, pastoral land, sinking land: Centre warned

Counterview Desk
Well-known environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, in a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, with copies to the Chief Secretary, Gujarat; CEO, Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority; other senior officials of industries, mines, environment and forest departments, have sought “urgent Investigation” to study the “unfolding disaster” at Badi-Hoidad Lignite Mines, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, where land is “sinking.”
Pointing out that, on their visit to the area on October 1-3, they witnessed contamination of river and pastoral land, the letter demanded that there should be “a drone survey led by experts’ team to study and put on record the environmental disaster” in order to suggest measures to tackle the problem, insisting, the “ongoing illegal mining, illegal dumping of mining waste” should be stopped forthwith and “errant” officials should be punished.

Text:

This is to bring to your urgent notice the unfolding environmental disaster at Badi - Hoidad and neighbouring region due to illegal lignite mining and its ongoing dumping activities.
Following accounts of Badi, Padva and neighbouring villagers, on October 1, the 12 Gam Khedut Sangharsh Samiti, Badi Padva and Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) visited the mining waste dumpsite 350 meters away (location high hillock - 21.609352, 72.226347) from Badi village. We observed that the dumpsite is sinking since late night October 1, and again on October 3, we estimated it too have sunk by about 25-30 feet deep and around 150 meters length.
At the same time to (location 1.6063300, 72.2268610) the Maleshree River that flows 350 meters away from the Badi Village and the village pastoral land (location 21.6231430, 72.2264560) about 1.5 kilometres away from Badi village is contaminated due to the illegal mining waste flowing into it and is fast being rendered unfit for agriculture and animal husbandry needs. The river condition has worsened following the rains in the region.
We put on record and bring to your notice the continuous adverse impact of the illegal mining dump waste that takes each time in new ways. We had earlier brought to your notice the unfolding environmental disaster that has struck the region in our letters referred above which are unaddressed by the concerned authorities despite repeated reminders.
The mining waste hillock estimated to be around 150 meters in length (location 21.609352, 72.226347) is sinking rapidly in the ground, a phenomenon which needs immediate expert assessment and investigation. To our observation the hillock is sinking in the ground; and seems to neither erode nor is being washed away due to rains. It is beyond a layperson's understanding what is causing the land to sink so rapidly.
The illegal mining waste flowing in from the mining waste hillock on the other side is contaminating the Maleshree River at location 21.6063300, 72.2268610. This river water is used for both agriculture and also fulfils the drinking needs of the cattle, as well as recharges the groundwater. The resulting  contamination is also seeping into the underground water and also the contaminated river water is impacting the agricultural produce and gradually the water is becoming unfit for the cattle.
Rohit Prajapati during site visit
The illegal mining waste washed over the pastoral land (location 21.6231430, 72.2264560) due to the rains has rendered it barren, making it unfit for pasture cultivation. This pastoral land supported the grazing needs of the cattle of Badi village and neighbouring villages. As a result, the expenses of the cattle upkeep have increased phenomenally, while the unfolding environmental disaster is adversely impacting the quality of life and livelihood of a self-sustaining rural community.
We demand the following actions from the concerned authorities on an immediate basis to assess, investigate and study the unfolding environmental disaster.
  1. The competent authority should carry out a drone survey led by experts’ team to study and put on record the environment disaster and suggest short – medium – long term measures to tackle it.
  2. As sought by the villagers earlier, we again reiterate our demand to stop the ongoing illegal mining, illegal dumping of mining waste and set an exemplary action against the company’s top officials, and all errant authorities who failed to take timely action against the offenders.
We expect your prompt and positive response in the interest of life, livelihoods, and environment in the affected areas. If you fail in your mandatory duties, you as responsible authorities and as individuals, will be collectively liable for present conditions and future consequences.

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