SC panel rips the cover off mining loot

SC panel rips the cover off mining loot

Despite clumsy efforts by some mining firms to camouflage the brown hills, laid bare through consistent exploitation, with artificial green cover, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee has discovered a shocking increase in production of ore and total lack of clarity on lease boundaries during its visit to Chitradugra on Sunday.

The Committee  visited two mines — Laxmi Narasimha mines and Allam Virabhadrappa mines — in Hosdurga taluk and discovered that mines had been granted permission to extract ore that was unrealistic to the size of the leases.

Mining firms in the district have been busy attempting to cover up their misdeeds over the past one week . “During today’s visit, we were able to see significant damage to the environment due to mining. Mining is being done on a completely unscientific manner”, said Vishnu Kamath, one of the co-petitioners in the illegal mining case.

“We could clearly see ore dumping on the sides of the road. The miners have freshly planted some eucalyptus trees, but the effort was so pathetic that it would have been better had they done nothing”, he added.

In the case of Laxmi Narasimha mines, permission had been granted to increase production from 15,000 MT per annum to a whopping 4.5 lakh MT per annum — a 30-fold increase in the production of ore- in the lease area of only 7.8 hectares.

The area under exploitation is  unusually small for production that runs into lakhs of tonnes. The mine has also recently received permission to increase production to 7 lakh MT per annum from the Indian Bureau of Mines.

The CEC found that the ore had been dumped outside the lease area on both sides of the road, and they have not adhered to the mining plan. In addition, the mine has also restored an area lying outside their lease area, instead of restoring the area within their lease.

In the case of Allam Virabhadrappa mines, owned by Congress leader Allam Virabhadrappa, there was some difficulty in identifying encroachments on the ground as there was confusion on the actual boundaries of the leases. The CEC will visit Chitradurga and Holalkere taluks on Monday, before heading to visit mines in Tumkur district on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They will submit a report within two weeks to the Supreme Court detailing the impact on environment due to mining activities in these two districts.

The team was accompanied by Dr U V Singh, who headed the Lokayukta mining investigating team and H R Srinivas, Director of Mines and Geology Department. Also accompanying them were Deputy Commissioner Vipul Bansal, Mines and Geology Department Deputy Director Udaya Shankar, Deputy Conservator of Forest Srinivasulu, and SP M N Nagaraj.

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