A State government-appointed panel on illegal quarrying in Kanakapura taluk has recommended filling existing vacancies in the Mines and Geology Department and strengthening the department by providing mobile squads for streamlining quarrying of ornamental stone in the taluk.

It has opposed granting leases for quarrying within one km of human habitations. “The government needs to take a definite stand on the issue of grant of quarry leases/permissions within 100 metres of forest boundaries in the light of the existing laws and court rulings,” a 14-page report said.

The committee, headed by Mohamed Sanaulla, Principal Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, in the report submitted to the government on March 14, has said that there is scope for quarry lease holders to evade payment of royalty and value added tax during transportation of granite blocks from quarries to proposed destinations, resulting in illegal transportation of the stone.

The committee was set up by the D.V. Sadananda Gowda government to inquire into the allegations of illegal quarrying in the forest areas of Kanakapura taluk. It, however, says that there is no illegal quarrying activity around the forests of the taluk.

Minister for Forest C.P. Yogeshwar had alleged that Congress leader and MLA D.K. Shivakumar and his family members had indulged in illegal quarrying in the taluk.

The report states that “at present there is no quarrying in the forest area, and that there are three disputed quarries active in the areas within 100 metres of the forest boundaries. The remaining 29 active leases/permits are operating by and large as per rules.”

It says, “there is tremendous scope for improvement of the whole system of transportation of granite quarries to be destined locations for effective collections of royalty and VAT by the government.”

The report recommends introduction of e-Khajane system for transportation of granite stone from quarries to the dealers on the lines of major minerals and application of the “Karnataka (Prevention of illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals) Rules 2011 for granite also.

It suggests the establishment of at least one multi-departmental check-post in each one of the routes leading to Kanakapura from other places.

It has urged the government to conduct a joint survey by the Revenue, Survey and Settlement and Forest departments to mark the boundaries of forest land in the disputed areas.