Expressing displeasure over the government’s ‘inordinate’ delay in curbing illegal mining and export of illegally mined ore, the Karnataka High Court today gave a week’s time to it to announce procedures to address the issue.
Regretting that no orders have been issued despite the State banning iron-ore exports a month ago, a Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar in a special sitting directed the government “to get its act together and put its procedures in place in a week“.
When writ petitions by nine mining companies, seeking to quash the ban, came up for hearing, state Advocate General Ashok Harnahally said procedures were being put in place to curb illegal mining and theft of iron-ore and the Lokayukta probing the matter would submit its report in six months.
On hearing this, Justice Khehar wanted to know how the government would vest everything in Lokayukta and “say you are not going to do anything about it. How can you just rely on a report and ask us to wait for six months?
“It is fine if he is doing his job, let him do it, you do yours. If Lokayukta,a retired supreme court judge can find out where all illegal mining and theft of iron-ore is taking place, to say that the entire police of Karnataka cannot find this out, is just not accepted. It is the will which is lacking.”
Justice Khehar further said, “If somebody is in the wrong, stall him do not stall everybody. If theft of iron-ore has to be checked, it has to be done right where the mining takes place not when it loaded onto trucks.”
Earlier counsel for five mining firms including Lakshminarayana Mining Co and Deccan Mining Syndicate, D L N Rao contended that the Centre alone could impose such a ban.
After hearing the arguments, the bench adjourned hearing to September 3.