'Cancel mining leases at Swamimalai, Ramgad'

'Cancel mining leases at Swamimalai, Ramgad'

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has recommended the cancellation of 15 mining leases in Ramgad and Swamimalai blocks of Bellary district after it was found that mining licenses were issued without the mandatory forest clearances.

The CEC has recommended that mining operations should be immediately suspended, and the process of cancellation of mining leases should be taken up in a time bound manner. Ramgad has been in the news after the State government attempted to denotify 265 acres of forest land as revenue land illegally.

The existence of forests was established by comparing satellite images before and after mining commenced, which showed that leases were granted in areas with forest density between 100 per cent and 60 per cent  and that a huge number of trees have been felled in these areas.

The CEC has recommended exemplary action against officers of the Revenue department and Forest department for issuing false No Objection Certificates stating that areas where mining leases have been sought are non-forest land.

DC, DCF under scanner

The CEC has laid blame on the then Deputy Commissioner Bellary for issuing these NOCs. “These NOCs were issued by the then Deputy Commissioner, Bellary without obtaining a report from the concerned Divisional Forest Officer, something that was mandatory”, notes the report.

The CEC has also named P Rajashekhar and M K Shukla, former Deputy Conservators of Forest, Bellary Division for issuing false NOCs in the cases of  Karthikeyan Manganese and Iron Ore and Balaji respectively.

In the latter case, the CEC expressed surprise at the audacity of the attempt: “The CEC has never come across any case where, in spite of the forest area being notified as reserved forest, the DFO.

DCF has certified it as non-forest land on the basis of the Survey of India toposheet.”
The CEC has also named Thippeswamy, the then Range Forest Officer, Sandur Range for issuing false NOC at least in five cases. 

The CEC also recommended action against Muttaiah, DCF (Bellary), the Conservator of Forest (Bellary Circle) and other officials in processing the forest offence case against  Laxminarayana Mining Company.

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