A close look at mining fallouts

  • 30/08/1993

A close look at mining fallouts The area being mined has gone up 36.5 times in the past 20 years and as a result, forest cover in the area has declined from 237.8 sq km in 1971 to 127.7 sq km.

In 1971, the entire forest cover of 237.8 sq km was classified as dense forest. Now, only 28 sq km is under dense forest and about 73 sq km is degraded forest.

Land under agriculture decreased from 351 sq km in 1971 to 308 sq km. While some of this land has been diverted to mining, a major part has become wasteland. In fact, the area of wastelands increased from 17 sq km in 1971 to 134 sq km in 1991.

Of the 30.8 sq km under mining, about 8 sq km is in notified forest area, 8 sq km in notified wasteland and about 14 sq km is on notified agricultural land.

The level of suspended particulate matter in the mines is within Central Pollution Control Board standards of 500 mcg/cubic metre, but it is more than double the limit of 199 mcg/cubic metre for areas unaffected by mines.

Several mine workers suffer from lung and liver diseases. Among the workers surveyed, 25 per cent had diseases caused by dust inhalation.

Dust released by mining has affected agricultural crops.

Mining and debris blocked several water courses and streams and the water table around streams has gone down by as much as 3 metres.

Water tables are falling also because of percolation from reservoirs and aquifers into pits. In addition, deforestation and accelerated mining have led to declining groundwater recharge.

Pollution levels of water sources around the mines are within acceptable limits, but mosquitoes bred in stagnant water reservoirs in the mine pits. More than 25 per cent of the workers suffered from malaria.

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