Consider plea for renewal of mining leases: SC to State

The Supreme Court of India on Friday directed the Karnataka government to consider within a month all applications for renewal of iron ore mining leases in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts.

A three-judge forest Bench led by Justice Aftab Alam told the State government to pass the final order on all applications pending for renewal of leases within a month.
The court issued its direction after being told that for more than a year, the applications filed for renewal of leases were pending with the State government, and in some cases, there was a possibility of leases getting expired.
The Bench, however, refused to pass an order on a plea made by the Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association seeking direction for allowing extraction of iron ores on the ground that the overall deficit would adversely affect their production.
The Bench, also comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, questioned the rationale of the association approaching the court for the purpose and wondered why the miners, the worst sufferers, due to ban on mining were not doing so. “Why are they (miners) not coming before us? We are (still) trying to understand the underlying dynamics. Position of miners is worse,” the Bench said.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, representing the association, submitted that two out of 18 ‘A’ category mines, which fully complied with rehabilitation and reclamation guidelines, have got the statutory clearance as well.
Senior counsel C U Singh, also appearing for iron and steel manufacturers, submitted that the iron ore production by public sector, the National Mineral Development Corporation, was not sufficient.

The court, however, was not impressed.“We need steel. We also need livable environment. We don’t want steel at the cost of environment. What is the cost of degeneration of environment,” the Bench asked.

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