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SC stops mining in Bellary
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 29
The Supreme Court today suspended iron ore mining in about 11,000 hectares in Bellary district of Karnataka in order to check over-exploitation of the resource by mine owners resulting in widespread destruction to the forest cover in the area.

The apex court order has come at a time when Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa is on the verge of quitting following the Lokayukta report indicting him for his role in allowing illegal mining in the state. “We are satisfied that on account of over-exploitation, considerable damage has been done to the environment,” the Bench said in the order.

The three-member forest Bench, headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia, passed an order to this effect after going through the report of the Central Empowered Committee that detailed the illegal mining being done by companies by encroaching upon forest areas adjoining their mines.

The court asked the Centre to assess within a week the requirement of iron ore required for meeting the demands of the steel industry within the country and how much of it was being met by the Bellary mines. It also wanted to know the quantity of iron ore being exported at present.

Citing an example, the CEC report said one of the companies in Bellary was allowed to increase its production from 1.52 lakh tonnes to 10 lakh tonnes a year in an area of only 10.12 hectares.

“The CEC is unable to comprehend how, even theoretically, the regulating authorities have satisfied themselves that such levels of production can be maintained in such a small sized mine without compromising the statutory provisions relating to overburden dumps and bench formation for mining, internal roads, maintenance of safety zones, stacking of mined iron ore and maintaining prescribed standards of air and water quality,” the report said.





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