As it expired on December 13, 2004, the mining done in the forest area thereafter is illegal

The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee has said the first renewal period of the Obulapuram Mining Company's mining lease of 25.9 hectares expired on December 13, 2004 and the permission granted by the Andhra Pradesh government to treat the lease valid up to April 25, 2017 was illegal.

“The permission granted by the Andhra Pradesh government to treat the mining lease valid up to April 25, 2017 is illegal and needs to be set aside. The mining done in the forest area after 2004 is therefore illegal, and the value of the mineral extracted from the reserved forest after April 2004 should be recovered from the leaseholders, based on the normative market value of the mineral extracted from the area,” the Committee said in its report.

Similarly, two other leases of 39.5 and 68.5 hectares should be cancelled as the mining was done illegally because the area differed from what had been approved.

All mining operations, including transport of already mined material (if any) should remain suspended until the inter-State boundary was formally determined and permanent pillars were laid on the ground; exemplary compensation payable by each of the respective mining lease holders should be deposited in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAMPA); and an effective system of checks and balances and monitoring should be put in place to prevent illegal mining outside the lease area. No mining should be permitted up to a distance of 50 metres on either side of the inter-State boundary.

The sorry state of affairs, as explained in the report, could not have taken place without the active connivance of Andhra Pradesh government officials, the committee said. “The almost non-existent monitoring mechanism largely contributed to the large-scale illegalities which have occurred.”