Staff Correspondent

`The huge profit margin is attracting many'

In 2005, 130 cases were booked and iron ore valued at Rs. 4.30 crore seizedUntil February-end this year, 14 cases were booked and 23,112 tonnes of ore valued at Rs. 1.59 crore seized

BELLARY: A better-coordinated approach involving the departments of Mines and Geology, Forests, Revenue and Police, equipped with

Reinforced Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMRD) Act, will help in curbing illegal mining activity and ensuring that the loopholes in the law are not cashed in on for personal benefits.

The suggested was made by Pankaj Kumar Thakur, Superintendent of

Police, in his report on unbridled illegal mining activity in Bellary district and its negative impact on the society, economically, socially and ecologically.

The report was recently forwarded to the Government, seeking steps to curb illegal mining activities.

Mr. Thakur has pointed out that illegal mining was being carried out on a large scale in the district and that it involves people from different strata of society.

The problem, he says, has the potential of snowballing into a bigger issue. The huge profit margin has been ttracting many undesirable elements. If this goes unchecked, a mafia culture may develop, he has said.

Mr. Thakur has said that the problems associated with mining activities includes mining operations being carried out without government lease or permission, or in contravention of terms and conditions of lease agreement; theft of extracted minerals belonging to either the government or any lessee, pollution caused by heavy trucks transporting the ore, and public protest.

Although the MMRD Act does not envisage any direct role for them, the police have been playing a very important role in enforcing it, he says. In 2005, 130 cases were booked and 1.26 lakh tonnes of iron ore valued at Rs. 4.30 crore were seized. Until the end of February this year, 14 cases were booked and 23,112 tonnes valued at Rs. 1.59 crore seized.

As many as 480 vehicles were seized during 2005 and a fine amount of Rs. 1.03 crore collected. Up to February end this year, 256 vehicles were seized and a fine of Rs. 56.43 lakh was collected. But despite this, illegal mining has been going on in three taluks of Bellary district, Sandur, Hospet and Bellary, he says.

Mr. Thakur has suggested imposition of heavy penalty and suspension of mining lease in case one is found indulging in illegal activities.