The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Friday said that large-scale illegal mining was on in Karnataka particularly in Bellary district in connivance with officials and public representatives.
Special forest bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia issued notice to the State government and sought its response on various findings in the CEC’s interim report including the export of 304.91 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore without valid permit between 2003 to 2009-10.
The report, which was placed before the bench, said that there has been illegal mining on colossal scale in the state, particularly in Bellary district with “active” connivance of officials of the departments concerned and also public representatives.
The apex court had in February directed the CEC to conduct a probe over allegations of illegal mining in the state and submit a report within six weeks.
The court’s direction had come after a petition filed by an NGO had submitted that as per Karnataka Lokayukta report, mining activities were being carried not only illegally but also in the areas categorised as forest land.
Earlier, the bench had directed the CEC to probe the Andhra Pradesh side of the Bellary region.
NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya had alleged that the respective state governments in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh had failed to stop the rampant illegal mining of iron ore, which adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor.
It had alleged that illegal mining had resulted in “an encroachment of 1,114.8 hectares of forest land in Karnataka.”
It had said, “The Union of India through both the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Ministry of Mines has not exercised enough checks and balances to curtail illegal mining in the two states.”
The NGO had submitted that the Lokayukta report had highlighted that forest area to the extent over 2,000 sq kms was available for mining by private entities despite specific objections raised by the Forest Department.