Ramesh seeks report on illegal mining in State

 Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh in his letter to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, asked him to submit concrete plans to control illegal mining and details of its time-bound implementation.

The Union Minister’s latest diktat came in the backdrop of the BJP-led Government’s request to the Centre seeking permission for diversion of 200.73 hectare forest land in Kumaswamy range in Sandur Taluk of Bellary district in favour of M/s JSW Steel Limited, Bangalore for iron ore and manganese mining.

Though the proposal of JSW came before the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), an official body under the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), which gives approval for forest clearance recently, the FAC did not give its approval. Instead, the Ministry has asked the state government to submit a detailed report on cases booked against illegal miners and sought the Action Taken Report on the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.

The Minister also informed the chief minister in the letter that he had extended the moratorium imposed by his Ministry on fresh applications for diversion of forest land for mining purposes until concrete actions were taken to stop illegal mining. The MOEF had imposed a moratorium to grant fresh lease for mining in Bellary district on October 18 last year following complaints of illegal mining in forest areas.

The magnitude of illegal mining is high in Karnataka and as per the Union Government over 40 per cent of the total illegal mining cases were detected in the State alone. Union Ministry of Mines had earlier also requested the Karnataka Government to allow the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the menace which was rejected by the State Government.

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