Ore pellet export: SC seeks Centre's stand on FIMI plea

Ore pellet export: SC seeks Centre's stand on FIMI plea

The Supreme Court has asked the Union government to inform about its “precise stand” to a plea made by the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI Southern chapter) for permission to export pellets produced in Karnataka's Ballari, Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Abhay Manohar Sapre and Navin Sinha asked the Ministry of Steel to apprise about its stand on the issue as amicus curiae senior advocate Shyam Divan submitted that there will be huge economic implications in the matter.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the industry body, FIMI, South, relied upon the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee's report stating the restriction on export of iron ore pellets from Karnataka can be removed.

The court also allowed the NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya to file its response. It gave FIMI, South, four weeks' time thereafter to file its rejoinder. The court put the matter for consideration on October 24.

The FIMI, South, in its application, has claimed the ban on export of pellets manufactured from iron ore purchased in Karnataka is leading to an aberrant situation where pellet manufacturers are forced to source iron ore from outside the state. The pellets are unique products made out of iron ore fine and are completely different from iron ore.

In a related development, the court took into the record a submission by senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, representing the Karnataka government, that the bids on the auction of 'C' category of mines will be opened on September 4.

On a plea made by public sector entity NMDC, the court asked it to respond to a submission by amicus curiae Divan that a total of 13.20 hectares of the tailing pond is within its lease area and subject to receipt of forest clearances and other statutory requirements, the company may be permitted to exploit the said area.

The bench also directed the Monitoring Committee to complete the inspection of 10 leases on or before September 15 and decide or before September 30 their plea for releasing of guaranteed money to the lessees, subject to their having undertaken reclamation and rehabilitation plan.