KARNATAKA

Cases filed against mining companies

M. Ahiraj

They have been charged with encroachment



Iron ore, machinery and vehicles worth Rs. 110 crore seized recently

The Forest Department acted upon instructions from Lokayukta’s office



BELLARY: In a crackdown on illegal mining activities in Bellary district, the Department of Forests has booked cases against seven mining companies. Similar action will be taken soon against other firms that have encroached upon government land, official sources in the department told The Hindu on Saturday.

Hitherto, raids were conducted on plots of land where iron ore was being stored. During random checks, officials discovered that the companies were also transporting ore without a valid permit. Several hundred tonnes of ore was seized in the recent past, the sources said. This is perhaps the first time that the Department of Forests has taken such stern action against mining companies in the district.

Survey report

“We have sought a survey report on mining activities in the district, as well as maps from the State-level committee headed by U.V. Singh, Conservator of Forests. On getting them, we will verify the records and initiate action against encroachers,” an official, who requested anonymity, said. However, the sources did not reveal the names of people responsible for mining ore on the encroached forest land, but stated that cases had been booked against the companies involved.

The department took action against the companies on May 31, based on instructions from Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde during his recent three-day inspection of mining areas in Hospet and Sandur taluks of the district.

The findings of the U.V. Singh Committee, consisting of officials of the departments of Revenue, Forests, Survey and Land Records and Mines and Geology, helped the Forest Department officials to verify the records and initiate action against erring companies.

The committee has recorded the degree of encroachment and violations, and maps of the areas were prepared using remote-sensing equipment. Iron ore, machinery and vehicles worth Rs. 110 crore were seized by the department in recent raids. The office of the Lokayukta, after being entrusted with the task of inquiring into illegal mining between 2000 and 2006, had also sought the help of the U.V. Singh Committee to carry out its investigations.

Arvind Srivastav, Deputy Commissioner and chairman of the district task force on prevention of illegal mining, told The Hindu that he had instructed officials of all departments concerned to check plots used by mining companies to stock extracted ore and ascertain whether the lands were non-converted, registered, or had no-objection certificate from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. He said he had also instructed them to verify whether the mining companies, after obtaining the required permission, were flouting the norms imposed.

Mining leases

He also said he had come to know that 31 mining leases were granted in Ramgadh area of Sandur taluk without proper Revenue survey numbers and added that notices were being issued to them.

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