The Samaj Parivartan Samudaya (SPS), petitioner in the illegal mining case, has appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) to constitute an independent registered society (IRS) headed by a serving or retired High Court or Supreme Court judge in place of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) recommended by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

The court may pass orders for the “nature of the work to be carried out by independent registered society, including overseeing implementation of the Reclamation and Rehabilitation Plan by lessees, monitor actual quantity of ore extracted and conservation work”, the SPS said in its additional affidavit filed before the court.

In the affidavit, the SPS pleaded for handing over the task of assessing the exact extent of loss caused by the lessees under category B and C mines to an independent investigating agency such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), besides seeking a similar probe into illegalities committed by nine lessees in category A, B and C mines, including Sesa Goa, Mysore Minerals, R. Praveen Chandra, Varalakshmi Mining, RBSSN, Matha Minerals and Lata Mining.

The SPS has appealed to the court to direct the Karnataka government to reinstate officials of the Lokayukta police, who were transferred prematurely “in consultation with the newly appointed Lokayukta”.

Appealing to the court to declare Karnataka government’s Cabinet decision of de-reserving 11,520 sq km forest land for mining, which is “in clear violation of the Forest Act” as null and void, the SPS said: “The then Secretary, in his reply to the Lokayukta in 2009, conceded that the preparation of the list of de-reserved land was marred by errors of translation, oversight, non-adherence to the rules of transaction of business of government.”

The SPS, which has been consistently arguing that the de-reservation of over 11,000 sq km of forest land for mining by the then Chief Minister S.M. Krishna was in clear violation of the Forest Act, has strongly urged the CEC to “declare Karnataka government’s Cabinet decision in this regard and the consequent three notifications as null and void”.

While lauding the “excellent recommendations” made by the CEC to apply brakes on the indiscriminate exploitation of mineral wealth, the SPS noted that the CEC “has not suggested a credible and permanent monitoring system to oversee the implementation of these measures; a three-tier R & R Plan lease-wise and fixing an upper limit of 30 lakh tonne for extraction per annum.”

Taking exception to the CEC’s suggestion of allowing mining operations of A and B category leases, the SPS said categorisation was made on the basis of the extent of encroachment. This is not correct; mining is a multifaceted activity that includes extraction, beneficiation, transportation, trading and export of ore. The petitioners listed the irregularities committed by A and B category lessees, including theft of government property, use of government land without proper conversion under-invoicing, extraction in excess to sanctioned quantity and violation of mining plans.

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