SC verdict on K'taka mining on Monday

SC verdict on K'taka mining on Monday

The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its order on whether the resumption of mining operations in ‘B’ category of iron ore mines could be allowed in Karnataka’s Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Aftab Alam said it would pronounce its order on Monday, October 1, on whether extraction of iron ores could be permitted in 65 mining leases.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), submitted that besides other strict conditions, a sum of Rs 5 crore per hectare under illegal mining pit and Rs 1 crore per hectare for areas under illegal overburden dumps could be charged from the leaseholders before granting permission.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya,  opposed the contention, saying let all the mining leases falling in ‘B’ category take fresh environmental clearance before starting operation.

He also did not agree with the amount to be levied on the defaulting leaseholders, saying they had caused larger environmental damage.

In its report, the CEC had said that the court may consider clarifying that the figure of Rs 5 crore per hectare was the minimum base figure of compensation and it would not preclude an application before the National Green Tribunal or before any other authority for higher amount.

The CEC had put the iron ore leases into ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories based on the level of illegalities and irregularities allegedly resorted to by them.

The apex court had on September 3 lifted the ban on mining operations in Karnataka by permitting resumption of iron ore extraction in as many as 18 ‘A’ category mines. It had laid down strict conditions, including compliance of all statutory guidelines, and undertaking of reclamation and rehabilitation (R and R) work.