Illegal mining costs Rs 15k cr

Illegal mining costs Rs 15k cr

71.28 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore exported illegally in 2009-10

Illegal mining costs Rs 15k cr

In its interim report submitted to the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday, the CEC has stated that 304.91 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of iron ore had been exported from Karnataka without valid permits in this period.

“At a conservative rate of Rs 5,000 per metric tonnes, the nominal value of the illegally exported iron ore from Karnataka comes to Rs 15,245 crore. These figures starkly highlight the massive scale on which illegal mining was going on in Karnataka,” notes the report.

Reserving harsh words for the State government, the CEC said it had dealt with several cases of illegal mining in states such as Harayana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. “However, all these cases pale into insignificance when compared to the illegal mining on the colossal scale that has taken place in the State of Karnataka particularly in Bellary district,” the report says.

The report notes that the problem has been getting progressively worse over the years, with 2009-10 alone recording 71.28 lakh metric tonnes of illegal iron ore export. The CEC also found unregistered dealers had procured 64 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore, indicating the level of illegal mining in the State.

Five-fold fine

The CEC has recommended the imposition of a five-fold fine on mining owners who have been illegally mining in the State. After the State government assesses the quantity of ore illegally extracted, “an amount equal to five times the normative value of such minerals may be directed to be recovered from the respective lease holders as exemplary compensation,” recommends the CEC.

The CEC also suggests shutting down mining operations and banning the transport of minerals wherever the Lokayukta has found illegal mining.

In his 2008 report, the Lokayukta had found illegal mining in 99 leases, which has led to encroachment in 1,081 hectares of forest land.

Mining operations will be resumed after a joint survey finds no illegality, including all requisite forest and environment clearances. In cases where illegal mining has been found, punitive charges will have to be paid and explicit permission of the Supreme Court has to be sought before resuming mining.