Ore transport: HC upholds PCCF order

The High Court on Tuesday upheld the order of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) denying permission to the petitioner to lift and transport fine iron ore particles lying at Kemmannugundi since 2007.

The petitioners, Tycoon Traders, had moved the High Court challenging the non-refund of the tender amount by the Steel Authority of India Limited for failing to lift one lakh metric tonnes of iron ore as well as the denial of permission to lift the iron ore and transport it through the Bhadra Tiger Reserve by the PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden.

The division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna upheld the order and observed, “Bhadra wildlife sanctuary being a tiger reserve, it is required to be inviolate for the protection of tiger.”

The bench said, “As clarified by the PCCF, the permission cannot be granted under Section 38 (V) of Wildlife Protection Act.” The SAIL, through its Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Limited (VISL), had awarded a tender through auction, to lift old fine iron ore to the petitioner.

Norms violated

The ore was stocked at Kemmannugundi and it had collected over Rs two crore as tender amount. When the petitioner failed to lift the ore within the given time, VISL (SAIL) granted time till 2009 much against the norms.

When the petitioners could not lift the ore within the stipulated time due to denial of permission by PCCF B K Singh on June 15, 2010 - stating that the Tiger reserve being inviolate, the transportation of the iron ore cannot be allowed (the petitioners had proposed to transport 500 truckloads of iron ore through Tanige Bailu within the Tiger reserve) - VISL re-auctioned it to others on September 24, 2011, and refused to refund the tender amount to the petitioners saying that it had been forfeited.

Refund

The petitioners challenged it before the High Court, seeking refund of the money.
During the hearing, when the Government Counsel R G Kolle submitted that as per the tender conditions the ore was not lifted and was auctioned again, the court was unhappy and said, “How can you re-auction it when you had already auctioned it?”

The High Court Division Bench - while upholding the order of the PCCF - directed Steel Authority of India Limited to refund the amount to the petitioner within four weeks.

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