Illegal mining thrives in Tumkur district also

Penalty of Rs 144 crore levied on 14 operators; clean chit for three firms

According to the documents at the office of the deputy director of Mines and Geology, as many as 14 mining leases in the district have been cancelled after they were found to have encroached the allotted area. The erring companies have been asked to pay a penalty of Rs 144 crore. Iron ore worth not less than Rs 300 crore has been extracted illegally.

The firms/individuals whose mining lease have been cancelled include -  Canara Minerals; Balaji Produce Company; Tumkur Minerals; Mata Minerals; Karnataka Mining; NSR Gupta; Kamalabai; M Upendran; Teja Works and Hanuman Mines. While the licence of Lata Mines has expired, no encroachment was found in the areas where Milan Minerals and D R Ganapathi operated, it is said. The sons of Minister V Somanna are the lease holders of Mata Minerals. The Lokayukta is already probing the illegal mining by this company.

Of the 14, a licence holder has moved Karnataka High Court, while a couple of them have paid the fine in part, amounting to Rs four crore. No irregularity was found by three companies.

The State government, in the court, has argued that going by the market value of the iron ore and the rate fixed by the National Mineral Development Corporation, the ore extracted is worth not less than Rs 300 crore. However, the Mines and Geology department has worked out the rate at about Rs 144 crore on the basis of the royalty on extracted minerals as fixed by the Indian Bureau of Mines.

Notice issued

A notice dated March 26, 2011 issued to Tumkur Minerals by the deputy director of Mines and Geology department, states that the company has not maintained lease boundary pillars and intermediate pillars. The firm carries out mining in Sondenahalli of Chikkanayakanahalli taluk. Mining was found to have been carried out by encroaching the government land. It also says rejected ore has been stacked outside the lease area.

After a joint survey by the officers of Forest, Land Records and Mines and Geology Departments, a penalty of Rs 1.75 lakh for encroachment/stacking rejection in seven acres beyond the lease area, and a penalty of Rs 7,12,565,987 towards the mineral value of 5.63 lakh metric tonnes of ore transport, was imposed. A sum of Rs 7,12,56,599 was claimed as royalty, and in all the company was directed to pay 78,39,97,586 within a month.

The company took the matter to the High Court and a resurvey of the mining area is scheduled for June 9 and 10. The report should be submitted to the court on June 23.
28 operators active

According to Suresh Babu, Deputy Director, Department of Mines and Geology, Tumkur, only 28 of the 55 leaseholders in the district have been operating. The quality of iron ore extracted in the district is not as superior as that obtained in Bellary, he added. When asked whether illegally extracted ore could be traced, he said the ore must have already been sold out for domestic use.

A report submitted by Tumkur Deputy Commissioner B Somashekar after a spot inspection points to illegal mining and says that the leaseholders should be made to lift the waste dumped on the revenue land.

On the basis of the report, it has been decided to conduct a joint survey in the lease area.The lease period of licence holders-  M Upendra, B R Dayanath Singh and B R Surendranath Singh, has expired. On a request it has been decided to extend their lease for three months under certain conditions. However, penalty has been levied on these companies for mining in the non-leased area and for stacking the waste in violation of rules.

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