Illegal mining: State officials appear before CEC

The CEC is investigating into illegal mining in Bellary, following the Supreme Court’s direction in the writ petition filed by S R Hiremath from Samudaya Parivartan Samaj and Vishnu Kamath.

At the one-and-a-half hour hearing, the CEC questioned the Karnataka officials on various aspects of illegal mining in Bellary. At one point in the hearing, the CEC suggested that, perhaps, all mining in the State should be suspended as it was done in Haryana previously.

In their submission on Thursday, the petitioners asked the CEC to initiate legal action against mining firms that have encroached nearly 1079.17 hectares of forest land, cancel their mining leases and recover the cost of the iron ore illegally extracted. The CEC has also been asked to stay the orders of the Karnataka High Court which allowed mining to be carried out in ‘undisputed’ areas in 27 forest offence cases.

The submission by Hiremath and Kamath also asks the CEC to set aside the forest blocks opened up for mining in 2002 and declare them null and void. Citing the Lokayukta report, the petitioners have also asked the CEC to recommend the recovery of revenue loss from former Chief Minister Dharam Singh and other officials named in the Lokayukta report.     

The petitioners also raised the issue of Ramgad in Sandur taluk, where rampant illegal mining without forest clearances is taking place. They have asked the CEC to cancel the order denotifying 265 acres of forest land as revenue land, and cancel the notification of issue of all mining leases in the area as null and void.

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