The Samaj Parivartan Samudaya (SPS), which has been waging a battle against illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has appealed to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to make a recommendation to the Supreme Court to cancel “all the mining leases in the districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur”.
In its submission to the CEC, following the Supreme Court’s August 17, 2012, order on illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the SPS has favoured scrapping of all the mining leases under Category A, “whose lease area falls partially or completely in forest areas and cancellation of all the mining leases coming under B and C categories”.
“Mining leases categorised under ‘A’ are mired in serious irregularities, illegalities and criminalities that have escaped the attention of the CEC. They fail the test of compliance with law and good governance,” said the counsel for SPS, Prashant Bhushan, in the 32-page submission made to the CEC on August 20. It sought direction to collect penalty at five times the market rate for illegal ore being mined from the Category C and B mining leases, as recommended by the CEC in its interim report.
The SPS, which has been consistently arguing that the de-reservation of over 11,000 sq. km forest land for mining by the then Chief Minister S.M. Krishna was in clear violation of the Forest Act, has strongly urged the CEC to “declare Karnataka government’s Cabinet decision in this regard and the consequent three notifications as null and void”.
It has also appealed to expunge the reference by Dehradun-based Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) in its report, for conducting a study to bring in superior underground mining technologies in the Western Ghats to extract magnetite ore, as recommended by the CEC.