SC poser on resumption of mining in Karnataka

The Supreme Court today said it was worried over "underlying dynamics" with steel manufacturers pitching for resumption of mining operations in Karnataka instead of lease holders of iron ore mines.

A special forest bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said despite the lease holders for iron ore mines having zero production, they were not seeking relief and the steel manufacturers were before it.

"Their (lease holders) production is zero. Their earning is zero. Why they are not coming. They are under ban for months, why they are not coming," the bench also comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said.

The bench said it was "deeply worried about the underlying dynamics."

The remarks were made when the steel manufacturers association made a submission for a direction for resumption of operations in the mines which have statutory environmental clearances.

Meanwhile, the bench asked the Karnataka government to decide within a month all the pending applications seeking renewal of mining leases.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who is assisting the bench as an amicus curiae, submitted that the statutory environmental clearance is a long drawn procedure and it would not be possible to do it before July next year.

"It is a time consuming exercise and any time bound clearance involves huge compromises," he said, adding that there is no need to rush through the forest clearance.

The steel manufacturers submitted that the B-category mines be given nod for mining as the ban was affecting both the manufacturers and the consumers.

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