State to seek SC nod to fine erring firms

In effect, the State government will concur with the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) recommendation that the State ascertain the total quantity of iron ore and other minerals extracted by indicted lease-holders and an amount equivalent to five times the normative market value of such minerals be recovered from them as an exemplary compensation.

Sources privy to the contents of the affidavit said the government would contend before the apex court that it had no issues in collecting the compensation from the indicted companies.

The CEC had submitted a total of five interim reports to the Supreme Court last week which among others dealt with  15 mining leases illegally granted in Ramgad Forest Block, Swamimalai Forest Block and Sandur Range Forest, Bellary.  

One of the interim reports dealt with illegal mining and encroachment of 1981.4 hectares of forest area in Bellary-Hospet-Sandur region by various mining lease-holders by way of mining pits and construction of roads undertaken outside the lease area.

Review petition

In another development, the State government is planning to file a review petition before the High Court of Karnataka seeking a direction to 64 mining companies in Bellary to stop mining operations till the completion of a comprehensive survey of the mining areas.

The companies, which had been indicted in the Lokayukta report submitted in 2008 for violating forest regulations, had got a reprieve from the court which allowed the companies to mine in 'undisputed' areas.

Sources said it was difficult to demarcate the 'disputed' mining areas from the 'undisputed' due to lack of survey records. The only way out was to seek a direction from the High Court to stop mining activities till the completion of a survey of the mining areas jointly by the Indian Bureau of Mines, the Survey of India and the Department of Mines and Geology, the sources added. The review petition is likely to be filed this week.

The government has already issued a show cause notice to 64 mining companies. The 15 companies which have been named in the CEC report have stopped mining, sources said.

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