The Supreme Court today declined miners’ plea to direct the Karnataka government to allow them to transport iron ore from the ports within a fixed time frame.
A bench of Justice R V Raveendran and Justice A K Patnaik refused to pass any order over the plea submitted by leading miners, including Sesa Goa, after observing that the State was already processing various applications filed by miners to transport iron ore for the purpose of exports.
State Counsel Anita Shenoy informed the apex court that the government had received several applications filed by the miners and they were processing it.
The court was also informed that as per its direction, the Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals Rules, 2010 had been notified and the State government was receiving applications, accordingly.
However, a battery of counsels appearing for the mining industry submitted that there was unnecessary delay in processing the formalities.
They further submitted that the miners had to make some undertakings, stating that they would be liable if the material that they buy from a firm and export is found to be illegally mined.
Earlier, passing an order on April 5, the apex court had directed the State to lift its ban imposed on transportation and export of iron ores from April 20.
The court had also given the government 15 days’ time to raise the required infrastructure to check illegal mining in the State.
This was done after the State requested the Supreme Court to grant it 15 days time to set up various check posts and install Radio Frequency Identification Devices on the miners truck to track their movement.
The State government had in its two orders in July 2010 banned transportation of iron ore for export purposes for six months. This was challenged by mining firms - Sesa Goa, MSPL, SB Minerals, Minerals Enterprises, Sathya Granites before the Supreme Court.
The miners submitted that the Karnataka government was not lifting its ban on transportation of iron ore for exports, despite the assurances given to the apex court that it was a temporary measure and would last only for six months.
However, the period had lapsed and the government was still not issuing permits to transport the iron ore extracted from their mines, they said.
Earlier, the apex court had on February 11 this year directed the government to allow transportation of iron ore, which was piled up in major ports of the State following the imposition of a ban on shipments.
The bench had said that if the State government did not bring the proposed Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining Transportation and Storage of Minerals Act, 2011, into force by the end of March, mining firms would be entitled to get interim relief.
In January, the Supreme Court had asked the Karnataka government to either notify the new law against illegal mining within two weeks or lift its order banning transportation of iron ore meant for exports.