BL reported that several mines in north Karnataka have now been given a fresh lease with the state government allowing them to resume operations and transport ore.
On May 21st 2011, the Karnataka Department of Mines & Geology overturned its earlier directive and allowed resumption of operations in those mines where the Supreme Court directed survey and demarcation activities are currently not being carried out. Though the order was issued on May 21st 2011, it is only now that some of the mine owners are becoming aware of it. The court on May 6th 2011 had directed formation of a special team to conduct S&D in 99 mining leases in the Bellary Hospet Sandur belt.
About one fourth of total iron ore export from the country is from the mines in this region. There are a total of 118 mines in this belt of which mining was suspended in 19 by the Supreme Court.
In a circular, a copy of which is available with Business Line, the director, Department of Mines and Geology, pointed out that the Supreme Court had directed that a joint survey should be conducted in 99 mining leases of Bellary Hospet Sandur sector in North Karnataka. The Department in turn had decided to stop all kinds of mining activities there during the survey so that it can be carried out without any interruptions.
However, mine owners and their association had pointed out to the State Government and the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee that such a decision violates the order as the Court has not prohibited operations in 99 mines. Also, as the S&D activities were being carried out in phases, there was no point in suspending operations in the remaining mines.
Following these representations, the joint survey committee consisting of officials from the Departments of Mines & Geology, Forest and the Karnataka Lokayuktha reviewed the earlier notice and decided to allow mining activities in those areas which “have not been covered in the current phase of S & D operations” and hence can resume their activities there.
An industry body representative said that "We are glad that the State Government has realized that it is not practical to ban mining completely as they had argued in the court."