The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered “complete closure” of mines categorised as having maximum illegalities in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts in Karnataka, saying illegal mining there played “havoc” with the economy and “has had a chilling and crippling effect on ecology and environment.”

A three-member Bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam, however, permitted resumption of iron ore mining in category A and B mines in the three districts but only after fulfilment of the guidelines, including reclamation and rehabilitation, as recommended by the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

Of the 166 mining leases, where the court banned operations on July 29 and August 26, 2011, activity in seven category B mines was suspended by the court as they fall on the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border.

“The operation of the seven leases situated on or near the inter-state boundary will remain suspended until finalisation of the inter-State boundary dispute whereupon commencement of operations in respect of the seven leases will be examined afresh by the CEC.”

While directing closure of category C mines, the Bench, which included Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi, said: “Illegal mining, apart from playing havoc with the national economy had in fact cast an ominous cloud on the credibility of the system of governance by laws in force. It has had a chilling and crippling effect on ecology and environment. It is evident from the compilation submitted by the CEC that several of the category C mines were operating without requisite clearances or in the absence of mining lease...”

The Bench added: “There is no room for compassion; fervent pleas for clemency cannot have a persuasive value. As against individual interest of 49 category C leaseholders, the public interest would require the court to lean in favour of demonstrating effectiveness of the long arm of the law. We, therefore, order complete closure of the category C mines and for necessary follow-up action in terms of the recommendations of the CEC.” — PTI

‘Illegal mining

has had a chilling and crippling

effect on ecology’