SC pulls up K'taka over fresh survey of mining area

SC pulls up K'taka over fresh survey of mining area

The Supreme Court has pulled up the Karnataka government for conducting a fresh survey disregarding its 2013 order for shifting the boundary of a private lessee of iron ore mining.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday reprimanded the Essar Steel (Hazira) and the Karnataka government for overstepping the court’s order passed on the basis of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) report, which had determined the measurement of all mining leases spread in Ballari, Tumakuru and Chitradruga districts.

“Not only the conduct of the lessee, the legality of the joint survey undertaken by the Karnataka officials does not inspire confidence of the court,” the bench, also comprising Justices Prafulla C Pant and A M Khanwilkar, said.

The court wondered how the private lessee holder came to complain about wrongly fixing the boundary of lease area after a lapse of two years. Even though it was allowed to make representation before the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) before the finalisation of its report in April, 2013, it noted.

The bench said that after the approval of the CEC’s report on April 18, 2013, there was no reason for seeking fresh survey for redrawing the boundary and renewed measurement of lease area.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing as amicus curiae, submitted that undertaking resurvey was wrong as all 64 mining lease holders, including the present applicant, were given opportunity for representation before the court-appointed panel.

He also claimed the lease holder made as many as three representations in 2012 which the CEC had already examined before giving the final report.

Senior advocate Sanjib Sen, representing Essar Steel, contended that the boundary of the lease was sought to be amended by about 1.5 km away even though it was finalised in 1966, affecting the mining, as some portion fell under the forest area. The court, however, dismissed the plea.

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