SC softens on Bellary mines closure

SC softens on Bellary mines closure

SC softens on Bellary mines closure

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to consider the plea for re-opening of 16 iron ore mines in Karnataka, acknowledging the adverse impact on the steel industry due to ban on mining operations.

A three-judge forest bench led by Justice Aftab Alam fixed as August 17 the date for considering the application filed by Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturing Association seeking direction to allow opening of 16 mines listed as ‘A’ category of mines having least irregularities by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

“The industry is going slow. The production should not be shut,” the court observed.
The Bench, also comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, sought to know as to whether rehabilitation and reclamation (R and R) plan for these 16 mines have been implemented as suggested by the apex court-appointed CEC.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, said no R and R plan has so far been implemented.

During the hearing, the court also suggested that a joint meeting of the representatives from Karnataka government, CEC and state-owned National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) be conducted to chalk out the mechanism for production and supply of iron ore.

Counsel for the NMDC, Arvind Datar, said difficulties were being faced in the transportation of extracted iron ore. Absence of long time contract was coming in the way of extracting the mineral, he added.

The apex court had on April 20 permitted the resumption of mining operations by the leases falling in ‘A’ category in districts of Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga after they were able to strictly implement the R and R plan. In its report submitted on Wednesday, the CEC told the apex court that it has been making concerted efforts to expedite the preparation and implementation of the R and R plans, undertaking of the preparatory works, processing of proposals for seeking statutory approvals and for resumption of the mining operations in ‘A’ category of mining leases to ensure that adequate iron ore was available to steel and allied industries.