Iron ore mining is set to resume on a full scale in Karnataka with the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommending that all lessees under A and B categories be permitted to restart mining operations.

The panel, in its recommendations to the apex court, has said that all the leases under category A can be permitted to excavate ore. The apex court, on September 3, 2012, had permitted resumption of mining for 18 of the 45 leases in category A. With CEC’s latest recommendations, the remaining 27 will resume operations.

For category B, the panel suggested that the court consider permitting the resumption of mining operations with certain conditions, including penalty for removing ore outside the lease area, damaging roads, dumping ore outside the lease area and paying compensation for implementation of the Rehabilitation and Reclamation (R&R) plans and deposit 15 per cent of the sale proceeds of the existing iron ore with the monitoring committee headed by the State chief secretary.

“Before starting mining operations, implementation of the R&R plans for areas affected by the illegal mining pits and illegal overburden dumps will be completed or will near completion to the satisfaction of the monitoring committee,” M K Jiwrajka, member secretary of the CEC, said in the report submitted to the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court will take up for hearing the recommendations on Tuesday. If the court accepts the recommendations, a total of 117 mining leases in Category A and B may get permission to resume mining operations in the ore rich districts of Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga.

Though the Supreme Court had earlier permitted resumption of mining in 18 mining leases in the ore rich districts, only eight leases in category A got permission from the monitoring committee, as they had all statutory approvals, while the remaining 10 leases were not permitted due to lack of statutory approval.

The panel, which visited the sites of all the eight leases and some of the mines under B category, informed the Apex Court that it was satisfied with the steps taken by the firms in the implementation of R&R. Following this, the CEC had recommended resumption of mining in both A and B categories, with certain conditions.

Earlier, the CEC had classified the leases into three categories on the basis of the level of illegalities. Category A comprises 45 leases which were found committing marginal illegality, ‘B’ comprised 72 mining leases which were found to be involved in illegal mining by way of creating mining pits extending upto 10 per cent of the lease areas outside the sanctioned limit.

The category C had 49 leases with severe violations of law. The apex court, in its orders on July 29 and August 28 in 2011, had imposed a ban on mining operations in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts.

Courtesy: DECCAN HERALD

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