SC panel wants mining cap in Karnataka

SC panel wants mining cap in Karnataka

 In an effort to maintain sustainable development of mining sector, the Supreme Court appointed high-level panel has proposed  that the minimum area of a lease for mining should be at least 25 hectares and preferably 50 hectares.

“There is a need to maintain a minimum limit of viable area for mining so that ore can be stored properly, overburden can be stabilised using bio-remedial measures including restoring the wildlife conservation potential and green belt raised in safety zone around the mine lease boundary,” said the panel in its report submitted to the apex court.

The report was prepared by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) after studying macro-level environmental impact assessment study in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing the incidents of illegal mining activities in Karnataka, has asked the ICFRE to conduct a study on environmental impact and recommend solutions, so that it can be applicable acrosss the country. The ICFRE, an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its recommendation to the apex court, also said fixing the minimum lease areas is very much required to adopt sustainable and scientifically sound mining practices for different size of mines.

For small lease holders (those having individual leases below 25 hectares) a consortium can be formed to ensure they also adopt scientific mining. A common dumping ground, safety zones and conveyer belt must be provided for stacking and transport of ores. These mines should be run as single unit on cost and profit sharing basis.

The report said that apart from fixing the limit on extracting ore, keeping in mind requirement of natural resources up to next 50 years, the renewal of mining leases should be compulsorily be based on an independent environmental audit report.

The panel also fixed the cap of maximum 30 million tonne of iron ore per annum for extracting from ore rich districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur in Karnataka.

“As Karnataka required around 30 million tonne (MT) of iron ore per annum, around 25 MT can be removed from Bellary while rest five million tonne from Chitradurga and Tumkur districts, provided all environmental and other safeguards are in place,” said the panel in its report submitted to the Supreme Court.

“Crushing plants must be covered to control dust emission and green belt must be raised around them. Covered conveyer belts for transportation of ore in all mines must be made compulsory and covered trucks must be employed for carrying iron ore materials to reduce pollution.

Roads in mining areas must be tarred at the cost of mine owners under the supervision of district level task force to minimise impact on forests, agriculture, air quality and health and safety of general public,” it added.

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