New Delhi, April 16, 2011 The Hindu
Panel slams Karnataka over illegal mining
The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Friday slammed the Karnataka Government for allowing large-scale illegal mining in the State, particularly in Bellary district, in connivance with officials and public representatives.
Taking on record the CEC's interim report submitted by senior counsel and amicus curiae Harish Salve, the Bench comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan issued notice to the State Government and sought its response by April 21.
The court, acting on the allegations contained in the writ petition filed by Samaj Parivartana Samudaya had asked the CEC to inspect the mines in Karnataka and submit a report.
In its report, the CEC said that from 2003-04 to 2009-1010, a total of 304.91 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore had been exported without valid permits.
Further 71.28 lakh metric tonnes was illegally exported in 2009-10 alone. "At a conservative rate of Rs. 5,000 per tonne, the nominal value of the illegally exported iron ore from Karnataka comes to Rs. 15,245 crore.
These figures starkly highlight the massive scale on which illegal mining was going on in Karnataka."
It said: "There are 266 iron ore mines in Karnataka, of which 134 are located in forest area while 132 are in non-forest area. These mines cover 11,604 hectares of forest land. In Bellary district, there are 148 mines, of which 98 are in forest area and 50 in non-forest area (involving 9,527 hectares of forest land and 1,341 hectares of non-forest land)."
The production of iron ore during 2009-10 was about 50 million tonnes and total iron ore mineral reserves (hematite) is about 1,148 million tonnes.
At the present rate of mining, the mineral reserves of the State will be exhausted in about 20 years.
However, if figures of illegal mining are added, the resources will get exhausted in a much shorted period and raises the serious question of inter-generation equity."
The CEC submitted to the Bench in a sealed cover a number of documents regarding alleged receipt of huge amounts as donations by a trust managed by close relatives of a senior political leader in the State; growing mining mafia in Bellary; alleged acts of a senior political leader of the State; alleged export duty/income tax evasion by mining company owned by a senior political leader.
The CEC said in the last nine years it has dealt a number of cases involving illegal mining in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Orissa. However, all these cases pale into insignificance when compared to the illegal mining on colossal scale that has taken place in Karnataka, particularly in Bellary district and that too with the active connivance of the officials of the departments concerned and also public representatives.
It said "out of 99 cases of mining leases involved in illegal mining, the survey and demarcation of only seven leases have so far been completed."
Referring to the report of the Lokayukta indicting the State Government and a former Chief Minister, the report said: "Unfortunately, hardly any perceptible follow-up action and corrective measures were taken on the findings of Lokayukta."
The Central Empowered Committee
The CEC was constituted on 17 September 2002 through a Gazette Notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The CEC has been constituted as an Authority under the provision of Sub section (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 in pursuance of the order of the Supreme Court dated 9-5-2002 and 9-9-2002 in W.P. 202/95 and 171/96 for a period of five years. The CEC’s broad task is to monitor and ensure the compliance of the orders of the Supreme Court concerning the subject matter of forests and wildlife and other issues arising out of the said order.
The CEC has been constituted by the Honourable Supreme Court of India with effect from May 9th, 2002 and presently comprises of the following six members:
- Mr. P. V. Jayakrishanan, Chairman
- Mr. M.K. Jiwrajka, Member
- Mr. Mahendra Vyas, Member
- Mr. M.K. Muthoo, Member
- Mr. S.K. Patnaik, Member
- Mr. P.J. Dilip Kumar, DGF & SS, Member
New Delhi, July 24, 2011 The Hindu
CJI raises concern over flouting of mining rules
Voicing concern over violation of mining rules, Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia on Sunday suggested that there should be a price regulatory mechanism for mineral exports as several private companies in the states were flouting norms and depriving government of huge royalty.
Speaking at an international seminar on "Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society" in New Delhi, Justice Kapadia said there should not just be a monitoring mechanism in charge of appraisal of mining in India but also one for pricing.
"Today, what we find, at least for over a period of last six years, that all mining plans are there but at the state level they are being flouted for some reasons. I don't want to go for the reasons but we do not have machinery to supervise even those mining plants even for norms laid down for environment protection," Justice Kapadia said.
He insisted that the biggest problem in the mining sector is the pricing of the minerals which are exported.
"Take the case of royalty. Time has come when the excavated minerals should be auctioned or should have price discovery mechanism. You have cross-border arms length pricing but we do not have domestic arms length pricing. The result is under invoicing," Justice Kapadia said.
He maintained that minerals sold abroad went for a huge profit margin because there is "no exemplar" to gauge ad valorem prices when the excavated material is being exported.
He insisted that there is a huge difference between the domestic prices and the price at which it is sold abroad.
New Delhi, July 29, 2011 The Hindu
Alarming illegal mining in Bellary, only 10% is legal: Supreme Court panel
Ninety per cent mining in Bellary district of Karnataka is illegal which has converted the area of green scenic into a ‘war-ravaged' zone with huge ugly scars, says the Supreme Court-appointed committee.
Placing its report before the apex court, the expert body said a majority of companies are involved in illegal mining and recommended the State government be directed to cancel their lease.
"It is estimated that the production of mines which are not found to be involved in substantial illegalities and which are eligible to continue mining operations may not be more than 10 per cent of the total production of the iron ore in the district," the panel said in its 23-page report.
There are 148 iron ore mining leases sanctioned in Bellary district, out of which 124 now exist and it is estimated that about 90 percent of the production is from the forest area.
"The situation at present is alarming and calls for immediate radical remedial measures," senior advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for the panel, said.
"As a result of mining and associated activities, today many areas present a barren dismal picture akin to a war-ravaged zone with huge ugly scars," he said adding a "majority of mines are involved in illegal mining outside the sanctioned lease area".
"In large number of cases, the permission for increasing the production of iron ore manifold has been granted recklessly without apparently taking into consideration the already alarming situation in the area," the report said.