Survey of India asked to submit report by April 22

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Survey of India (SoI) to complete the survey of the remaining two mines in the Obulapuram mines owned by Karnataka Minister G. Janardhan Reddy and his brothers in the Bellary area and submit a report by April 22.

On April 9, the SoI informed the court that there was no major encroachment on or illegal mining in so far as the first mine (spread over an area of 68.5 hectares) was concerned.

During the resumed hearing, senior counsel K. Parasaran, appearing for the Reddy brothers, pleaded for allowing operations in the first mine as there was no major indictment in the SoI report. In spite of the sophisticated equipment used for measurement of the lease, the deviation was found to be 0.1 or 100 to 150 metres. Reading out the report findings, he said: “Variation in actual area in extent and location on ground with respect to sketch area might be because of faulty demarcation/instrumental error and technological mismatch in method of surveying.”

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, P.P. Rao and P.S. Narasimha joined Mr. Parasaran in pleading for lifting the stay on mining operations.

However, Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for Andhra Pradesh, submitted that as per the SoI's findings, the areas had been completely shifted on the western side closer to Karnataka border. As far-reaching issues concerning alterations on the boundaries of the State borders were involved, Andhra Pradesh was willing to complete the survey of the inter-State boundaries in 10 days and until the boundaries were demarcated no mining activity should be permitted.

Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the SoI, said that as per the interim report, the Reddy brothers were completely moving away from the lease area. He said the SoI would be able to complete the survey of all six mines (including three licensees — Bellary Iron Ore Ltd, YM & Son, and Anantapur Mining Corporation) in two weeks and no mining operations should be allowed in the meanwhile.

The Bench asked the SoI to complete the survey in two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on April 22.