Need to speed up R&R implementation, statutory clearances

The Supreme Court’s nod for the resumption of mining in 18 A category mines has come as a great relief to all those depending on it directly and indirectly for their livelihood. But it is likely to take some time for the benefits to filter through as mining operations cannot resume immediately.

Of the 18 companies permitted to resume mining, the Reclamation and Rehabilitation (R&R) plan of 16 — 13 in Bellary and three in Chitradurga districts — were prepared and approved by the Central Empowered Committee.

The Supreme Court had directed that these companies could start mining operations only after implementing the R&R plan and also after obtaining all the statutory clearances, including approval of the mining plan by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), clearances from various departments, including Forest, Mines and Geology, Environment, pollution control board, among others.

Official sources in the Forest Department told The Hindu that the implementation of R&R plans had begun in 10 of the 12 mines having leases in forest lands and the progress was in various stages. As per the R&R plan, the works of erecting boundary pillars, dump stabilisation, terrace work around the dump, retaining wall around the dump, geo-textile implementation at slope of dump to develop green belt, plantation along the lease boundary, construction of settling tank, check dams and gully checks, garland drainage around the dump, among other things were in progress.

Mysore Minerals Ltd. (Thimmapanagudi), Nadeem Minerals, Mysore Minerals Ltd. (Subbrayanahalli), B. Kumaragouda, Vesco Mines, S.K.M.E. Mines, Zeenath Transport Co., Shantipriya Mines and Kariganur Minerals and Mining Industries Hospet, were among the nine companies in Bellary district having mining leases on forest land.

R. Praveen Chandra, Sesa Goa Ltd., Mineral Enterprises having leases in forest lands of Chitradurga district had started the implementation of R&R plans. Recently, a team of senior officials of the monitoring committee, including U.V. Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests and Deepak Sarmah, Additional Principal Conservator of Forests, inspected the mining leases to oversee the progress of the implementation of R&R.

Four mines — two leases of RBSSN, Allum Prashant and Tiffin Barryates — falling under A category have mining leases in revenue land of Bellary district.

Mr. Uday Shankar, Deputy Director of Mines and Geology, when contacted, said that there were 35 mining leases in Bellary district falling under A category, and they had been asked to implement R&R plans at the earliest. He reiterated that speedy implementation of the plan and getting statutory clearances would enable them to get early permission to resume mining operations.

Economy down

The economy of the district has taken a severe beating ever since the Supreme Court imposed a total ban on mining activities. People directly or indirectly dependant on mining, including those in the service sector (transport, earthmovers, financial institutions, mechanics and welders) were severely affected. The steel industries were also hard hit due to non-availability of iron ore, the basic raw material. All those dependant on mining activities are eagerly waiting for the mine owners to comply with the statutory formalities so that the extraction of iron ore resumes at the earliest.

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