The mining industry in the State has received a set back with the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommending prohibition of operations of 49 iron ore companies for the next 10 years. If the apex court accepts the recommendations in toto, there will be a major shift in the mining pattern in the State, say experts.

The CEC has also recommended for allowing two leases of the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) to continue mining “in the larger public interest”. However, the corporation will be liable for depositing penalty, compensation, as payable for the mining leases classified by the CEC under category B for committing minor illegalities.

Supplementary report

In its supplementary report on the preparation of reclamation and rehabilitation plans submitted to the Supreme Court recently, the CEC suggested “prohibition of mining operations in the areas found to be under illegal mining, except the areas falling in the sanctioned lease areas of the adjoining leases, for next 10 years to ensure that such areas are properly rehabilitated.”

The CEC said that the guidelines for reclamation and rehabilitation of mining areas in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts were being prepared. These guidelines reflect the broad consensus reached between the CEC, State government, the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education and the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries.

Fixing boundaries

Other important recommendations of the panel include fixing of boundaries for the mining leases on the ground, prescribing a ceiling of 25 million tonnes for total production of iron ore from all the mining leases in Bellary, a ceiling of 5 million tonnes for production of iron ore from all the mining leases in Chitradurga and Tumkur districts, approval of guidelines for the preparation of reclamation and rehabilitation plan and utilisation of iron ore to meet the requirement of steel plants and associated industries in the State and plants in neighbouring States, which have been using the iron ore from the mining leases located in the three districts.

The CEC also recommended continuation of the sale of iron ore through e-auction by the monitoring committee appointed by the Supreme Court.

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