SC panel sets terms to 72 mines for resuming operation

Restoring greenery made mandatory

A Supreme Court-appointed committee on Tuesday recommended that mining operations in Karnataka should not be resumed until proper implementation of the Reclamation and Rehabilitation plan by lease holders.

Guilty mining lease holders in Karnataka might be required to spend a fortune for implementing recommendations of the R and R policy prepared by the Dehradun based Indian Council of Forest Research and Education (ICFRE) to prevent plundering of the environment.

The ICFRE, which studied the Sankalapuram mines in Hospet taluk in Bellary district as a model, said around Rs 4.24 crore is required to be shelled out for every lease granted to restore the greenery.

It may be noted that the Centre Empower Committee (CEC), in its report submitted to the Apex Court has found 121 mining lease holders guilty as they engaged in illegal ore extraction either by mining outside the boundary or dumping the waste outside the sanctioned area.

The CEC team which inspected 166 mining leases in three districts -Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga- has recommended resuming operation with some conditions in 45 mines. 

However the panel said operations can resume in 72 mines with records of minimal violation (removing ore outside the sanctioned areas up to 10 per cent of the lease area) after implementing proper R and R policy.

The cost should be borne by the lease holders only.
Though the CEC has recommended cancellation of 49 leases for severe violation of norms (removing ore outside the sanctioned areas over 10 per cent), they too have to implement the Reclamation and Rehabilitation policy.

According to the CEC, expenses for implementing the policy, is in addition to the penalty fixed by the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court which is hearing the cases pertaining to illegal mining in Karnataka is  yet to decide on penalty or punishment against the guilty.

Though the mining lobby claimed that the CEC recommendations were too harsh and it would hurt mining operations in the country, officials in the government asserted that stringent measures would check flouting of norms.

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