Legal Correspondent

High Court reserves orders on OMC plea challenging GO stopping mining activity

State issues instructions after CEC finalises report on the ‘illegalities’ in Anantapur

Division Bench indicates that setting aside the GO may not arise in light of MoEF orders

HYDERABAD: The State government informed a Division Bench of the High Court that transport of iron ore by the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) in the name of shifting the mineral to the stockyards was not permissible under law.

The government, through its Advocate General D. Sitaram Murthy, placed the statements before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A.R. Dave and Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy on Wednesday. The Bench was dealing with a writ petition filed by OMC challenging the government’s action in issuing directions to stop mining activity in Anantapur district.

OMC challenges GO

The petitioner challenged the Government Order (GO 723 dated Nov. 25) asking all the six mining companies to stop mining activity in Anantapur district.

The State government issued the instructions after the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court had finalised its report on the alleged illegalities taking place in Anantapur district.

After the writ petition was filed, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) passed orders asking the mining activities to be stopped. T. Ganesh, T. Ekambaram and Rajeswari Minerals filed implead petitions in the writ petition filed by OMC claiming that they must be heard if any interim orders were to be passed.

Nagam files petition

Senior TDP leader Nagam Janardhan Reddy filed an implead petition in public interest, which was objected to by the OMC counsel.

He was told that the issue involved forest area which was allegedly being tampered with and hence any citizen could seek the court’s intervention.

The Bench indicated that the issue of setting aside the initial GO by the State government may not arise in the light of the latest orders by the MoEF.

The Bench was hearing arguments on the issue of permitting the transport of iron ore to the stockyards.

The Advocate General said if extraction itself was illegal, transport of the ore could not be permitted and the government had the powers to stop this.

The Bench was informed that the contention that the iron ore which reached the stockyard away from the mining area was out of the purview of the government by drawing a fine distinction was not tenable in the eyes of the law.

The Bench declared that the orders were reserved.