SC cancels Karnataka’s 49 mining leases

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday cancelled all the leases for iron ore extraction in 49 category C mines in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka.

The apex court’s forest bench of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Ranjan Gogoi while accepting the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee on green matters in its Feb 3, 2012, report said the “leases in respect of ‘C’ Category mines will stand cancelled…”

Justice Gogoi pronouncing the judgment said: “The proceeds of the sales of the iron ore of the ‘C’ category mines made through the monitoring committee will stand forfeited to the state. The monitoring committee will remit the amounts held by it on this account to the SPV (special purpose vehicle) for utilisation in connection with the purposes for which it had been constituted.”

The court confirmed its earlier order permitting mining activities in 18 category A mines. The court, however, put an embargo on the mining activities in seven mining leases falling in Karnatata-Andhra Pradesh border areas.

The court said the mining activities in seven mining leases would remain suspended till the demarcation of boundaries between the two states is cleared.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Gogoi said: “The operation of the seven leases placed in B category situated on or nearby the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh inter-state boundary will remain suspended until finalisation of the inter-state boundary dispute, whereupon the question of commencement of operations in respect of the aforesaid seven leases will be examined afresh by the CEC.”

The court said the “determination of the inter-state boundary between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh insofar as the same is relevant to the present proceedings, as agreed upon by the two states, be made through the intervention of the office of Surveyor General of India.”

The court vacated its earlier order restraining issuance of fresh mining leases.

Not accepting the recommendations of the CEC on the grant of fresh leases and in respect of pending applications for mining leases, the court said, “…This court’s order dated 02.11.2012 placing an embargo on grant of fresh mining leases need not be continued any further.”

“Grant of fresh mining leases and consideration of pending applications be dealt with in accordance with law, the directions contained in the present order as well as the spirit thereof,” the court said.

The order read out by Justice Ranjan Gogoi accepted a number of recommendations of the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on green matters given in its various reports from 2011 to February 2013.

The CEC divided mines in the area in three categories, A, B and C depending on the extent of mining in the districts.

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