NEW DELHI: The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) today filed its final report on illegal mining in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka recommending cancellation of 49 mining leases for "flagrant" violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act and other laws.
The 49 Mining leases include those of Mysore Manganese Co, Associated Mining, Matha Minerals, SB Minerals, L N Mining Co, Rajapura Mines, Milana Minerals, Thungabhadra Minerals Ltd and Mysore Minerals Ltd among others which are recommended to be cancelled spread over 1,914 hectares as they had collectively enchroached additional 895 hectares.
The CEC has told the court that "these (49) leases should be directed to be cancelled on account of being found to be involved in substantially illegal mining". It further said that "as penalty or compensation, the entire sale proceeds received or to be received by way of e-auction of the existing stocks of iron ore should be retained by the monitoring committee and the R&R plan should be directed to be implemented at the cost of the lessee".
The CEC recommended that the mining available after cancellation of the 49 leases may be directed to be alloted the "end user" of the iron ore through a "transparent process of bidding" to the highest bidder. "The iron ore production from such mines should be used for captive use only and no sale/export will be permissible," the committee added.
The CEC slammed the government machinery for the "rampant unauthorised unregulated, environmentally unsustainable amnd illegal mining" saying the "massive encroachment in the forest areas had no other parrallel in the country".
"The valuable public natural resources were allowed to be used for extraction of maximum possible quantity of iron ore to cash in on the steep rise in iron ore prices in the international market by a few persons and without ensuring commensurate benefits to the society or without any regard for ensuring the inter-generational equity.
"The massive illegal mining and transportation had become possible because of the blatant connivance of the concerned officials and public functionaries. The officials had either knowingly connived or looked the other way when illegality on the scale hitherto unknown was being resorted to and limited natural resources were frittered away for the benefit of a miniscule few," it said. THe CEC said the sharp degradation due to "unsatiable greed of a few" came under control only after the apex court's intervention.