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NGO urges SC to scrap all mining leases in State

Mahesh Kulkarni  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

The Dharwad-based non-government organisation Samaj Parivartan Samudaya (SPS), which is fighting the illegal mining case in the Supreme Court through a writ petition, has urged the apex court to scrap all the mining leases that are classified under Category A by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC). The CEC had listed 45 mining leases in Category A wherein no illegality or marginal illegality was found.

It has also asked for directing the mining leases that fall under category B and category C to pay penalty at five times the market rate of illegal ore extracted as recommended by the CEC in its April 15, 2011 report. Category B and C mines were found to be involved in illegal mining by way of mining pits have been found outside the sanctioned area or waste dumps are located outside the lease area. The CEC has classified mining leases in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts in A, B and C categories in accordance with the illegalities committed by them.

In an affidavit filed before the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court on February 28, 2012, the NGO has appealed for an interim direction to CEC to identify the ecologically sensitive and or forest regions where no mining can be permitted in the state of Karnataka. The petitioners have also sought for a direction to the government of Karnataka to undertake Reclamation and Rehabilitation work of the areas devastated by mining at the cost of the offending mine lease holders by involving the affected people directly in the rehabilitation work.

The Supreme Court, which took note of the CEC report on February 10, 2012 during its hearing in the matter, had asked the mining companies in Karnataka to sit together with the CEC and come back with a reclamation and rehabilitation plan for the region where the excavation has done environmental damage.

The SPS has also urged the court to declare the Karnataka government’s cabinet decision dereserving over 11,000 sq kms of land for private mining as void. The Congress government headed by chief minister S M Krishna had de-reserved 11,000 sq km through a cabinet decision in 2003.

The affidavit has also appealed to the apex court to issue directions for future mining activities subject to the following conditions. It wants a maximum cap of 15 million metric tonnes per year of ore in the districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur. The CEC in its final report had recommended for a cap on mining at 30 million metric tonnes.

Fixing of royalty at the rate of at least 40 per cent of the market rate of the ore and monitor all leases closely by the monitoring committee. Cancel mining lease if any one is found doing illegal mining and ban export of iron ore.

Another major appeal made by SPS is to expunge the reference to Western Ghats from the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) report as recommended by the CEC. It has also urged the court to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the high-level conspiracy between the public representatives, public servants and the private persons that allowed illegal mining to take place at such a massive scale.

SPS also wants the court to dir-ect the state government to initi-ate disciplinary action against the officials who allowed illegal mining to take place.

First Published: Sat, March 03 2012. 00:13 IST