‘Cyanide mounds’ turn green

Residents of Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) have started heaving a sigh of relief, literally, thanks to a sapling plantation drive on what locals refer to as ‘cyanide mounds’. The plants have successfully kept a check on the dust emanating from the mounds, gradually turning the dusty patches into a green space.

The ‘cyanide mounds’ were the result of dumping residue of gold mining operations around KGF for over a century. Approximately 32 million tones of waste had been produced over the period and dumped in 16 locations.

Residents of KGF, particularly those residing close to the mounds, have complained of respiratory diseases, bronchial disorders and allergies due to exposure to the dust with arsenic content.

In August 2017, around one lakh saplings — 40,000 agave and aloe vera, 40,000 honge (
Pongamia pinnata)

and 20,000 grass seeds — were planted on the mounds. Manure produced from the waste generated in Bengaluru was procured to nourish them.

Around 10 months later, the campaign, which saw residents pitch in, is bearing fruit. The mounds now look alike lush green land with the saplings reporting a success rate of 80%.

Many credit the campaign to M. Jagadeeshwar, the Third Additional District and Sessions judge at KGF, who took charge two years ago and took the initiative after his family encountered problems owing to the dust. He involved various agencies, including Robertsonpet City Municipal Council (CMC), the Forest Department and local organisations, in planting saplings over the mounds.

CMC Commissioner Srikanth said there has been a lot of improvement as far as spread of dust is concerned.

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