At the heart of the stunning rainforest and grassland ecosystem of the Kudremukh National Park in south India, a huge Government-owned iron ore mining operation stripped the hills bare for over 20 years. Every year, heavy monsoon rains washed enormous quantities of loose soil from the mined slopes into the Bhadra River, leading to siltation on a massive scale. Floods caused by the silted river overflowing its banks used to leave a thick sludge of iron ore on the fields of farmers cultivating along its banks, greatly reducing the fertility of the soil and their crop yields. This disastrous mining project was one of the
most horrific examples of bad land use and environmental destruction.
With its lease having run out, the mining company had applied for, and been assured of, a renewal of their lease for another 20 years. Such a renewal would have meant the opening up of new areas of pristine forests to mining, resulting in the destruction of the Thunga River that also originates in these hills. Mindless Mining – the tragedy of Kudremukh was made on a shoestring budget as a pro bono film to support an advocacy campaign by Wildlife First, a Bangalore based conservation NGO.
The film, which portrays both the beauty of Kudremukh and the havoc caused by 20 years of opencast mining, played a pivotal role in turning the tide of public and political opinion against the continuation of mining in this fragile ecosystem. The film was also submitted as supporting evidence to the Indian Supreme Court, which was hearing a Public Interest Petition against the continuation of mining filed by Wildlife First. In October 2002, in an unprecedented judgment, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of the iron ore mining operation in Kudremukh by 2005. Since then, the mined slopes have started showing signs of recovery and the tracks of tigers and other wildlife are being noticed in the abandoned mining area.
Producer: Shekar Dattatri
Duration: 12 minutes
Format: MINI DV Country:
India Production Year: 2001
By Jason Peters