The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Friday told the court that large-scale illegal mining in connivance with government officials and public representatives was taking place in the Bellary district of Karnataka.The CEC’s interim report upholds the Karnataka Lokayukta report on the alleged illegal mining of iron ore that adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor.
The special forest bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia issued notice to the state government and sought its response on various findings in the CEC’s interim report including the export of 304.91 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore without valid permit between 2003 to 2009-10.
The report, which was placed before the bench, said that there has been illegal mining on colossal scale in the state, particularly in Bellary district and there was “active” connivance of officials of the departments concerned and also public representatives.
The apex court had in February directed the CEC to conduct a probe over allegations of illegal mining in the state and submit a report within six weeks. Its direction came after an NGO moved SC and submitted that as per Karnataka Lokayukta report, mining activities were being carried not only illegally but also in the areas categorised as forest land.
Earlier, the bench had directed the CEC to probe the Andhra Pradesh side of the Bellary region.
The NGO had alleged that the state governments of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh had failed to stop the rampant illegal mining of iron ore that adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor. The petitioner alleged the illegal mining had resulted in an “encroachment of 1,114.8 hectares” of forest land in Karnataka.
The NGO had submitted that the Lokayukta report had highlighted that forest area to the extent over 2,000 sq km was available for mining by private entities despite specific objections raised by the Forest Department.