- They might have the final solution
By Team Mangalorean
KUDREMUKH March 21, 2011: 35 Years back, in 1975 when the Kudremukh Iron Ore company limited was floated as a 100 percent export oriented unit (EOU) to Iran at the picturesque Araoli range of western ghats, nobody gave a thought that it would be one day an environmental disaster to the most eco sensitive range of the Western ghats.
Today as one looks up to the Lakya dam it is evident that it was a mistake to allow iron ore mining in this eco-sensitive range. The Lakya dam built across the Bhadra river is now filled up to the brim with fine iron ore dust which is perhaps goes down in the history of India as one of the worst environmental disasters.
The Lakya dam looms large in the backdrop of the Araoli range like a desert of white dust resembling any desert in the world but only that it is manmade and cannot be wished away like that. All the efforts made by the top mining engineers to get rid of millions of tons of this hazardous dust has gone in vain, but the help appears to be on the way in the form of three groups of students from the elite technological and scientific institutions of India.
The group of students coming from National Institute of Technology-Karnataka at Surathkal, Dayananda Sagar Institute of Technology Bangalore and Indian Institute of Science are now mulling over various ways to use this huge deposit of iron fines to make construction materials like bricks, tiles and even cementing agent.
Giving details of this new development General Manager of the KIOCL at Kudremukh Mr. Bobraj Jayaharan told Mangalorean.com “the groups of students from these three institutions have collected samples of the iron ore deposits in the Lakya dam and taken it to their respective labs. I came to know that the students of IISc have created a model miniature house built with 40 per cent of iron ore filings with a blend of the conventional building materials like Sand. They have reported that the construction was stable and further tests were being done on the structure, while the group from the NITK was engaged in manufacturing few materials like tiles and bricks. The Dayananda Sagar Institute of Technology group was researching on the strength of the material when used with other materials. We are awaiting the final results,” he said.
When asked what will happen later? Mr. Jayaharan told that if the research products are successfully used to build safe dwelling units and fabrication of tiles, cementing agents and bricks the Lakya dam will be bustling with commercial activities as the deposits of iron ore will can be disposed off commercially in much faster pace than it was thought to be.
The deposit of iron fines has become an environmental threat to the Shola forests downstream Bhadra river as the dust picked up by the summer winds takes the dust far away into the valley and settles on the treetops. The Shola forests in Kudremukh area have already taken a bad beating due to mining and there cannot be anything more dangerous than the white dust settling on the treetops says environmentalist groups working in Western Ghats area.