SC seeks flow chart of officers with mining clearances

SC seeks flow chart of officers with mining clearances

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought production of a flow chart detailing officers responsible for grant of forest clearance of mining leases from the State government to fix onus on them.

The three-judge bench, presided over by Justice J S Khehar, gave two weeks’ time to the State government, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), the group representing interest of mining lease-holders, including those from Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga, to prepare the flow chart after discussing among themselves.

“We want to understand the ingredient of each stage. Who is the officer in charge at each stage and the time he took in dealing with a particular case.

It would be appreciated if the flow chart is prepared not only depicting the officer concerned responsible for each stage and suggested but also supervisory officer to be held responsible if the matter was dealt with in a given timeframe,” the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri, said.

The court was hearing a plea on behalf of FIMI contending that forest clearance of mining leases were to be granted within 45 days in case of State and 60 days in case of the Centre, but in most cases, such requests remained pending for over two years.

The bench was surprised to note a chart submitted by FIMI showing how matters regarding forest clearance and environment clearance took years to get through.

The court told the counsel, as well as senior officers from the State, personally present during the hearing, that the timeframe for forest clearance, environmental clearance and mining leases have to be strictly complied with. The court put the matter for further consideration on September 1.

‘File an affidavit’
Meanwhile, the apex court asked public sector companies National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) to file an affidavit on a plea seeking enhancement of overall production of iron ore in Karnataka from the current nine million metric tonnes to 12 million metric tonnes.

The court had in 2013 put a ceiling of 30 million metric tonnes of iron ore production in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga but production could not be met due to various reasons.

It was also argued though the apex court allowed NMDC to extract 12 million metric tonnes, it could take out only nine million metric tonnes.

A counsel, representing NMDC, contended that the company had put Rs 800 crore investment for streamlining production but the problem rested in dispatching, not extraction of iron ore. The court, however, asked him to submit his reply to the plea .

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