Govt keen to restart mining in Karnataka

Agency told to complete survey of iron ore mines

Eager to restart iron ore mining at the earliest in Karnataka, the Ministry of Mines has directed the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to expedite the process of surveying of iron ore mines in co-ordination with different agencies, including the state government.

Ministry of Mines Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi, who chaired the review meeting of the IBM recently here, is learnt to have advised the organisation to survey dump yard and spill over areas also to ensure that the mining companies restricted their activities only to leased areas.

The ministry is under pressure from steel industry to take steps for resumption of iron ore mining in Karnataka to meet the industry demand. Iron ore mining in Karnataka was banned due to complaints of illegal mining and only state run NMDC is allowed to excavate ore and supply to steel plants.

Earlier, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court   to probe illegal mining in Karnataka told the Ministry of Mines that resumption of mining operations would be possible only after Indian Bureau of Mines approved the mining leases.  In a letter to the Mines Secretary, the CEC said following the Supreme Court order, preparation and implementation of reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plans in respect of leases of 50 hectares and above in Bellary Chitradurga and Tumkur districts have been undertaken by the Karnataka government through the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE). The R&R plans are being executed under the supervision of the Central Empowered Committee.

 As per the information provided to the Central Empowered Committee in respect of a large number of mining leases, the period of the approved plan/scheme has either expired or nearing expiry. Therefore, the mining operations in respect of such leases can be allowed to be re-started only after their mining plans are approved by the IBM, the Central Empowered Committeesaid in the letter.

In Karnataka, the Central Empowered Committee had classified the mining leases in the three ore rich districts into three categories: Category A comprises 45 mines where there is no illegality.  Category B comprises 72 leases, where the Central Empowered Committee found illegal mining with mining pits extending 10 per cent beyond sanctioned areas and in areas where waste dumps are outside the lease.  Category C comprises 49 leases with maximum violations of the Forest Conservation Act. 

As part of checking illegal mining, the IBM has also intensified the process of registration of miners, stockists, traders, exporters and end-users of mineral to prevent illegal mining activities.

So far out of 5,931 lease holders of all types of minerals, registration number numbers have been allotted to 4,976 and remaining are under process.

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