The Supreme Court on Friday set up a team to conduct survey and demarcation of 99 iron ore mines in Bellary-Hospet forest region of Karnataka to identify sites of alleged illegal mining and directed that violators will have to stop work in their entire lease area.
A special forest bench headed by Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia ordered forming of the joint team of representative of the Forest Department and the Mines and Geology Department of State government besides those of Karnataka Lokayukta and the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC).
The team would conduct survey and demarcation of the leased mines in the presence of representatives of the mining firms and if any encroachment was found, the mining in the entire leased area would stop, the bench said.
The apex court directed the joint team to visit the site of all the 99 mines to carry out demarcation.
“If that team comes to conclusion that there has been illegal mining in the area outside the demarcated leased boundary, Leasee (miners) shall stop mining not only in its encroached area but in the entire lease area,” the bench said.
The apex court also clarified that the encroachment area would also include pits, dumps and roads constructed by the mining firms in the area.
The apex court said the firms which would be directed to stop mining would come before it and argue their case.
Earlier, the court had restrained 19 mining lease holders in Bellary-Hospet region of Karnataka from carrying out any mining activities, including transportation of extracted iron ores, till further orders.
The court had restrained the miners acting on the two reports of the court-appointed CEC, which had found large scale illegal mining in Bellary Forest area.
“We make it clear that there would be no mining or transportation of mined materials (in 19 mines) till further order,” the bench had said.
Some of the firms among the 19 mining lease holders are SB Minerals, Muneer Enterprises, Trident Minerals, Veeyam, Adarsha Enterprises, Sparkline Mining, VSL mining Co, Kathikeshwar Mining & Iron Ore and Mithra Mineral Enterprises.