Mining probe: Centre upset with State

The Union Ministry of Mine has convened a meeting of senior State Government officials by April-end to review the measures initiated by them to prevent illegal mining. The ministry also wants to take the government’s “view to evolve a permanent mechanism to end the menace of unchecked illegal mining,” a Mines Ministry official disclosed to Deccan Herald.

“Though some states like Andhra Pradesh have taken steps to check illegal mining, the Ministry is not happy with the steps taken by Karnataka,” the official said.
The Indian Bureau of Mines which conducted surveys on illegal mining in Bellary district a couple of months ago, found nine companies excavating iron ore illegally and recommended a ban on them immediately.

Unhappy over the lukewarm response from the Karnataka Government to rein in the mining mafia, Union Minister for Mines B K Handique has shot off a letter to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, urging him to take affirmative steps on the ground level. Handique, who has been exerting pressure on the government to permit a CBI inquiry into illegal mining in the Bellary-Hospet-Sandur belt, raised the same issue in his March 30 letter – the second from him – to the chief minister.

Enclosing a list of 17 pending references on illegal mining in Karnataka, Handique said, “If basic administrative measures are neglected, it can lead to an absolute collapse of the regulatory system at the field level.”

 The minister pointed out to Yeddyurappa that “Not much action appears to have been taken so far and reports of illegal mining continue to be received.” Handique wrote first on November 16, 2009 seeking constitution of a special investigation team and had offered Central assistance. While neighbouring Andhra Pradesh agreed to a CBI probe, the BJP-led government in Karnataka denied permission.

The Ministry also urged the Ministry of Railways to stop transporting iron ore removed from illegal mines. In a letter to Railway Board Chairman S S Khurana, Ministry of Mines Secretary Shanta Sheela Nair sought devising a mechanism to check illegal transportation of minerals in the wake of reports that several rakes were being used in the movement of illegally mined iron ores.

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