SC refuses to allow plea for increasing iron ore production

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to allow the Centre’s plea to raise annual iron ore production in Karnataka to 50 million metric tonne (MMT) to meet the steel industry’s demand.

A three-judge Green bench, presided over by Justice A K Patnaik, however, said the Steel Ministry could file a review petition against an order fixing the cap at 30 MMT.

The Steel Ministry in December filed an interlocutory application contending that the limit fixed earlier by the apex court was “quite insufficient” to meet the annual requirement of the industry, dependent on iron ore from Karnataka. “India, the fourth largest producer of steel in the world, is likely to become the second largest globally…but the industry has suffered on account of regional shortage of iron ore, particularly in Karnataka,” it said.

The ministry pointed out that 32 sponge iron plants stopped operation while the production of finished steel saw a meager 2.5 per cent growth in 2012-13. Consumption had, however, grown by 3.25 per cent. It also claimed that capacity utilisation of the Indian steel industry had touched an all-time low.

The Karnataka government had sought permission from the court to raise the annual iron ore production to 40 MMT.

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