Mining ban may be total in Tumkur, partial in C'durga

Three firms free of illegal operations taint in Chitradurga district

This is the opinion of the officials of the department mines and geology, which has been conveyed to Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda at a meeting conducted on Wednesday.

A recent report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has recommended to the Supreme Court that it extend the ban on mining in Bellary district to Tumkur and Chitradurga as well. The State government has to file its reply before the apex court on Friday.

The government is not in favour of a blanket ban in Chitradurga,  as at least three mining companies are not engaged  in illegal mining in Bheema-samudra village in the district.

The officials of the department of commerce and industries, under which the department of mines functions, made a two-hour presentation on three issues - mining, the Lokayukta report on illegal mining and the CEC reports on mining. Gowda sat through the presentation without interruption, sources said.

Sources said the three mining companies, which are operating without causing much hazard to the environment in Bheemasamudra, produce nearly 10 million tonnes (MT) of iron ore a year.

The government-owned NMDC, which has been allowed to continue mining in Bellary, produces about 10 MT per year. The State’s requirement is estimated at 36 MT. The present stock of iron ore is nearly 25 MT. The iron ore production by the Bheemas-
amudra firms, NMDC and the present stock in the State may meet the requirement of the steel plants of the State for about eight to 10 months, even if mining was totally banned in Tumkur and partially in Chitradurga. So, neither the steel industry nor the workers would face hardships, officials have informed the chief minister.

After some months, the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) may come out with a report suggesting ways to continue mining in a sustainable way, sources said.

The State government is also in favour of utilising the 25 MT stock by fulfilling the conditions imposed by the CEC. The conditions imposed include that the ore be used exclusively for meeting the requirement of the steel and associated industries and not for export; the sale should be effected through a designated government agency in a transparent manner as per procedure approved by the court.

The meeting also discussed the Lokayukta’s report on illegal mining. However, a final decision on the recommendations of the Lokayukta would be taken only after a four-member committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary K Jairaj, set up to study the Lokayukta report, submits its report. The committee has been given two months to submit its report.

Gowda was also given an update on Nice,  power station of Udupi Power Corporation Limited and Metro.

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