SC gives 2 weeks to Karnataka to reply on iron ore exports ban

A bench comprising Justice R V Raveendran and Justice A K Patnaik gave two weeks more time to the state government to give its response over its blanket ban order.

Three mining firms -- Sesa Goa, MSPL and S B Minerals -- had challenged the state government's July 28 order, imposing a ban on the issuance of mineral dispatch permits for transporting of iron ore for exports.

During the proceedings, counsel appearing for the state government submitted before the bench that ban was imposed following the report of the Karnataka Lokayukta.
The counsel further submitted that Lokayukta, in his report had said that there was large scale illegal mining and its transportation from the state.

"Following it, we have revamped our system. For proper check and balance we have stopped transportation of the ore. We are still not able to differentiate between legally and illegally mined iron ore

"We have devised a new mechanism in the state. We have also devised new transportation law by making some amendments in the transport law of 2008. These amendment would be modified very soon," said the government's counsel seeking two weeks' time for giving proper reply.

The miners have submitted before the apex Court that due to a complete ban on transportation, their legally mined stocks are lying on the docks for months and their value is eroding by the day.

The court will hear the case next in the second week of January. Earlier, the court had issued notices to the state government over three separate appeals filed by the mining firms.

The firms had challenged the order of the Karnataka High Court, which on November 19, upheld the state government's blanket ban on the issuance of mineral dispatch permits.

They contended that the state government, which has banned iron ore exports citing provisions of the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, has no power to do so.

Their petition said, "The MMDR Act does not vest any power in the state government to impose a complete prohibition or ban on the mining, transportation or storage of minerals. The only power of the state government, even under the MMDR Act, is at best to frame rules to create a machinery to detect and prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals in individual cases."

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