Mining firm's MD says it is vitiated by prejudice and bias

The report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) submitted to Supreme Court, recommending cancellation of mining leases belonging to Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC), owned by Reddy brothers of Bellary, is vitiated by bias and prejudice, according to B.V. Srinivas Reddy, Managing Director of OMC.

He was offering his reaction to the observations and recommendations of the CEC, which runs into seven pages.

Variation in sketches

Referring to one of the recommendations to cancel the mining lease of 68.5 hectares of M/s OMC that the lease deed executed by the Mines Department differed materially from forest area for which approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 has been obtained, Mr. Reddy has said, “If the sketch differs, or if there are any deficiencies or any defects in the sketch, under Rule 26(2) of Mineral Concession Rules, it is to be rectified but not rejected. Both the sketches were approved by the State and the Central Governments including MoEF and Ministry of Mines. No faults can be found with lessee.”

With regard to the mineral transported in guise of minerals extracted from the leased area is far in excess of what could have been extracted as per the size of the mining pits; Mr. Reddy has said that the allegation was false and incorrect.

According to him, the committee of the Mines Department of the Andhra Pradesh government has given a report confirming the quantities. To the charge that illegal mining was done outside the approved area, he said it was a very vague allegation.

Detailed survey reports

The Supreme Court-appointed composite survey committee headed by the Additional Surveyor General of India and other State heads has submitted detailed survey reports to the effect that OMC is in occupation of deficit area than what was leased to them.

Mr. Reddy has said that on the question of illegal use of reserve forest outside the lease area for overburden dump, it had already been compounded by the Andhra Pradesh State Forest Department in the year 2007-08, and the amount was paid by OMC but ignored by CEC despite filing proof of payment. CEC ignored the same recommending cancellation of mining lease of 39.5 hectares of M/s OMC stating that the lease executed by the Mines Department differs materially from forest area for which approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 has been obtained; Mr. Reddy said both the sketches were issued by the State government.

It is the State Forest Department which fixes the leases on ground at the cost of the lessee. Hence, no fault can be attributed to OMC.

On transportation of 11 lakh MT Iron ore without obtaining permit from the Forest Department in violation of the rules and guidelines, Mr. Reddy has pointed out OMC, BIOP and Y.M & Sons have got exemption from obtaining the forest dispatch permits from the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department. M/s. AMC bonafide believed that the same exemption (GO) was applicable to AMC also. It is a compoundable irregularity under the Andhra Pradesh Forest Produce Transit Rules. The matter is sub judice in the Andhra Pradesh High court.