Sunday, May 29, 2005

Greens to protest against Buddha at Ramanagaram

Greens to protest at Ramanagaram
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Irked by the Government's apathy over the mammoth Buddha statue being carved out at Handigondi near Ramanagaram by the Sanghamitra Foundation, at least five of the city's environmental groups have decided to stage a protest on Sunday at the site.

The groups include the Environment Support Group, the Karnataka Mountaineering Association, KINS Rock, Friends of Handigondi rocks and the Foundation for Nature Exploration and Environment Conservation.

In a media release, the ecologists contend that the Government, in particular the Forest Department, have turned a blind eye to the environmental damage that will be done to the rocks once the statue is carved out.

While forwarding the proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for clearance, the District Forest Officer ensured that a Supreme Court order over defacing rocks in Himachal Pradesh was circumvented stating that ‘‘it is carving a statue of international fame and away from highways and no paint was used to paint the rock.'' The official did not take into consideration the fact that the rocks would have to be dynamited, the release adds.

Even the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests forwarded the proposal stating that there was no damage to the forest since there would be no felling of trees, the release contends.

The Foundation claimed that only one rock would be carved and sought permission to divert about 10 acres of forestland for the purpose. But, the Foundation in actuality proposes to develop over 2000 acres around these rocks into a film city set on land where the movie ‘Sholay' was shot. The surrounding rocks would also meet a similar fate as the project proposes the carving out of busts of Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar and other national heroes as well, the release stated.

The rocks formed during the Lower Proterzoic era between 2600-2000 million years ago. These range of hills, unique to inland Karnataka, is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including endangered birds like the yellow-throated bulbul and white backed vulture. Destroying these rocks will destroy nesting grounds of these vultures, the release adds.


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