The final report of the Lokayukta on illegal mining favours the ban on export of iron ore so as “to increase the duration of life of leases for iron ore production”.

The report notes that the production, including illegal extraction, had gone up manifold after submission of the first report in 2008, according to the detailed findings of U.V. Singh. It observed that “there shall be complete ban on the export outside the country”. The observation is based on the details submitted by the Department of Mines and Geology.

Based on the submission on the life of leases by the Deputy Director Mines and Geology, Hospet, the report states that “it is shocking to note that most of the leases will be running out of deposits of iron ore for the ferrous content of 60 grade in a span of 3 to 12 years”.

The consent and approvals from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) have been increased irrationally, without keeping in view the total deposition of the ore in the leases and environmental damages. This unscientific and unsustainable extraction has caused serious concern for the existing steel plants and the upcoming plants in the State, the report says.

The IBM plans are being prepared by the lessees themselves and then taken for approval to the IBM. The consent of MoEF under the Environmental Protection Act has been given based on the approval of IBM. The consent given by the MoEF and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board was found quite arbitrary in many of the cases, the report notes.

Recommendation

To increase duration of life of leases for iron ore production, the report recommended bringing down per year production of all the leases with a life span of 15 to 20 years to one-fourth of the present production. Similarly, per year production of leases with life span of 10 to 15 years and 1 to 10 years to one-fifth and one-tenth respectively. The other recommendations include: viewing of illegal extraction seriously and cancellation of lease following due procedure if illegal removal is found. The quantification of low and high grade reserve should be done by the Indian Bureau of Mines and Department of Mines and Geology. The quantification should not be left to consultants and lessees under any circumstances.

Leases

The report suggests that the IBM should consult the State Government before approval of mining plan of any of the leases and all plans should be revisited and modified in accordance of the norms.

The State Government should take immediate action to revive the IBM plans, and the upper limit of despatch in Bellary, Hospet and Sandur region should not exceed 25 million tonnes per year, including low grade ore, it says.