Govt reviewing mining approvals following row

Govt reviewing mining approvals following row

Govt reviewing mining approvals following row

The State government is reviewing its decision on allotment of mining leases to select eight companies, which landed Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in controversy.

Effectively, the review of the files has rendered null and void the in-principle approvals given to the eight companies.

It is said the eight firms will now have to be considered under the new Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Amendment Ordinance of 2015. The chief minister had renewed the leases before the Centre’s ordinance on mining came into effect from January 12, 2015. 

Earlier last week, the Chief Minister’s Office referred the files pertaining to the eight companies to the Law Department to verify whether any rules and regulations were violated while renewing the licences. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday said he had sought the opinion of the Law Department in this regard. 

On February 4, the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) had sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders and bureaucrats stating that these eight firms were “hurriedly” issued the Letter of Intent (LoI) in the first and second week of January. 

The seven mining firms named by the BCIC were: Karignur Mineral Mining Industries, Shri Upendran, Tumkur Minerals Pvt Ltd, Karnataka Limpo Cement Industries, Veerabhadrappa Sangappa Co, Mineral Enterprises Ltd and M/s Sesa Sterlite Ltd. Another company which was given in-principle approval was Ramgad Minerals and Mining Limited. 

Based on this letter by BCIC, BJP Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar had charged that Siddaramaiah had favoured the eight companies for sanctioning the LoIs. Another BJP leader K S Eshwarappa had attacked Siddaramaiah as having shown favouritism to the eight companies by receiving kickbacks.

Sources in the secretariat said the Law Department, while giving its opinion, should point out the lapses, if any. Based on the inputs by the department, the government would decide its next course of action. The companies were given the in-principle approval on January 5, 12 and 19. It is also said that all the eight companies could get a conditional approval, if cleared by the Law Department. 

The Department of Mines and Geology has already sent a list of 108 mining companies for deemed approval to Siddaramaiah. In the list, the names of these eight firms do not figure. The companies will now have to wait for the clearance from the Law Department.