New Delhi, Aug 26: After Bellary, mining operations of two other districts of Tumkur and Chitradurga in Karnataka were today suspended by the Supreme Court which said that balance has to be struck between economic development and environment.
A three-judge forest bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia turned down the plea of some mining companies of Bellary for allowing them to carry on their operations and indicated that the suspension will continue till a proper rehabilitation scheme for the area is placed before it. It asked all the mining companies to form an association and sit with Attorney General G E Vahanvati and Amicus Curie Shyam Divan, who is assisting the court to propose the scheme on how mining should be conducted in the area in a scientific manner so that further damage to environment could be prevented.
“On going through the Report of Central Empowered Committee (CEC), we extend the order passed by this Court on July 29, 2011, to the mining leases in districts Tumkur and Chitradurga. Consequently, pending further orders, there will be a ban on mining in districts Tumkur and Chitradurga,” the bench, also comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar said.
The court passed the order after going through CEC report which recommended the halting of extraction of iron ores in the districts.
The Committee, in its latest report, said there was loss of forest land due to illegal mining of iron ore in 2678 hectares in Tumkur and Chitradurga which witnessed excessive production compared to the size of lease. The report gave findings of about 55 mining leases in Tumkur and about 18 mining leases in 687 hectares of which 500 hectare lies in the forest land in Chitradurga.
The CEC report about Tumkur said, “During the site visit a number of mines were overburdened and working pits were outside the leased areas. The construction of the road without approval has led to loss of forest cover”. In a relief to steel industry which has been affected due to ban on supply of iron ore, the bench said that it would allow release of the raw material for the industry in the state and sought response on their requirement. “The question is how much quantity could be released from the existing stock of 25 million tonnes of iron ore so that the steel industry is not starved.
“We have requested the Amicus Curiae and Attorney General to submit to this Court the quantity which could be released from the existing stock of 25 million tonnes of iron ore, subject to reclamation and rehabilitation plan(s) being submitted,” it said.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on September 2. PTI