Centre wants Karnataka to act against three mining firms

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in a recent letter to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has alleged that the firms -- S B Minerals, Trident Minerals and Veeyam Private Ltd -- were carrying out mining activities without adhering to mandatory norms laid down by the authorities while giving forest clearance, sources told PTI.

They said that the Minister has asked the state government to temporarily withdraw the forest clearance given to the three companies till they implement the norms that included erection of pillars and tree plantation in the safety zone during rainy season.
"During that period, the State Forest Department should ensure that no transportation of minerals is allowed," Ramesh said urging the Chief Minister to submit an action taken report (ATR) on the issue by July 10.

Ramesh pointed out that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), a statutory panel under his ministry that monitors forest violations, had suggested that the state government should immediately undertake a survey to demarcate mining areas from those falling under forest department in Sandur.

Quoting the FAC, Ramesh said all the three companies should erect heavy boundary pillars and provide a mandatory safety zone of 7.5 metres width around their mining areas which is a pre-condition for carrying out any mining activity.

Ramesh stressed that safety zone survey and demarcation including erection of pillars should be completed within a period of one month and trees should be planted in the safety zone during rainy season, as per FAC condition.

"Till then, the forest clearance given to the three mines should be temporarily withdrawn, the minister has said," the sources added.

The demand from the Environment Ministry for action against the firms comes close on the heels of the Centre's suggestion to the Karnataka government for a CBI probe into the ongoing rampant illegal mining, particularly that of iron ore, in the state.
On June 18, Ramesh had rapped the state forest department for failure in preventing encroachments into its own reserved forest area.

"This has led to rampant illegal mining of iron ore particularly in Bellary district," he had said while underling the need for survey and demarcation to ensure that illegal mining does not take place in forest areas.

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