THE Karnataka government seems to have turned a blind eye to the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, while authorising district forest officers to grant leases for quarrying in forest lands across the state. Until recently, the mines and geology department had the sole controlling authority for issuing quarrying licence in the state. Recently, the department had taken severe steps to restrict illegal granite quarrying all over the state. Apparently, the government bowed to pressures from the powerful granite mining lobby.
The state government's decision was based an a cabinet note stating that the curbs were affecting the employment of hundreds of people in the forest-dominated Uttara Kannada district and that all construction activities in the district had come to a halt. But a survey conducted by the mines and geology department found that there were enough quarrying sites in non-forest lands in the state which could keep up both construction activities and sustain the work force depending on it.