Staff Reporter

Single judge had ordered State to stop mining in forest areas

Mining firms say judge passed orders on matters not under dispute

Bangalore: Scores of mine owners and companies engaged in mining in ore-rich Bellary district heaved a sigh of relief when the Karnataka High Court on Friday set aside a single judge order directing the State to put an end to mining in forest areas.

A Green Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit passed the order on petitions by several mining firms that had challenged a single judge order of August 7, 2008.

The single judge had quashed a notification of March 15, 2003 granting licences in 34 blocks in Sandur to mine iron ore. The single judge had made several recommendations on the need to preserve forest land and regulate mining in forests.

The Congress Government had in 2003 recommended to the Centre to grant licences to mining firms in several blocks in the State.

The Centre had given licence to mine in two blocks, while permission was yet to be granted for the other blocks.

Meanwhile, a private mining firm had moved the High Court against the Government notification, saying that it is illegal and flawed.

The single judge had allowed the petition and quashed the March 15 notification. He had come down on the State Government for ignoring the forest conservation rules.

The single judge order was challenged by several mining companies. They said that the State Government had only recommended grant of licences and that it is the Centre that had given the licence. Moreover, the question before the single judge was related to dispute between two mining companies. However, the single judge had taken up a broader issue and passed orders on maters that were not under dispute. Several companies said they were not at all heard in the matter.

The Division Bench set aside the single judge order and upheld the action of the State Government in issuing the March 15 notification.