By Express News Service – BHUBANESWAR

07th January 2013 02:48 PM

State Government’s move to provide bauxite to Vedanta Alumina Ltd from near Karlapat Sanctuary has drawn sharp criticism from the green brigade which on Sunday said the decision will prove disastrous for the protected area rich in bio-diversity.

The environment activists said the sanctuary will be lost and precious wildlife such as elephants and tigers will be greatly threatened if mining is allowed by the State Government to benefit Vedanta which last year shut down its refinery due to non-availability of bauxite.

The company had entered into an agreement with Odisha Mining Corporation for extraction of bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills but the Centre vetoed the proposal. The Government is now planning to make the raw material available from Karlapat mines.

Karlapat has a number of perennial streams and nullahs that flow in the region and feed Tel river, a major tributary of the Mahanadi. Besides, its vegetation and water source influence the microclimate of the area.

‘’Karlapat boasts of a strong elephant population and serves as a crucial corridor link between elephants in Kotagarh sanctuary in Kandhamal and Lakhari valley sanctuary in Gajapati. There are four elephant corridors that pass through Karlapat sanctuary,’’ president of Loka Shakti Abhiyan Prafulla Samantara told mediapersons here.

He said the mineral deposited plateaus like Khandualmali and Krishnamali are just one to three km from the boundary of Karlapat and as per the Supreme Court’s guidelines, no development, industrial or mining activities can take place within 10 km of any wildlife sanctuary and national park. The proposed extraction of bauxite ore would violate the existing norm, he said.

Karlapat has moist peninsular sal forests, mixed deciduous forests and bamboo brakes, undulated terrains interspersed with valleys, high altitude peaks, plateaus, innumerable valleys that support many life forms including endangered mammals like tigers and elephants, leopards, wild boar, giant squirrel and antelopes.

Besides, 10 revenue villages and nine un-surveyed villages with a population of 1551 within Karlapat sanctuary would be affected by mines, Samantara pointed out. Tribals mostly belong to Kutia Kandh community.