The Supreme Court on Friday restrained 19 mines from carrying out mining operations in the Bellary region of Karnataka. A bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia further directed the companies not to carry out transportation of iron ore in the area. The order comes subsequent to the apex-court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) that had indicted the companies for operating in violation of the law.
“We make it clear that there would be no mining or transportation of mined materials (in 19 mines) till further order,” the bench ordered.
But it refrained from passing orders against 68 other mines that have approached the Karnataka HC for relief. The court asked advocate ADN Rao, assisting the court to file application seeking transfer of all cases before HC to the apex court. The CEC had on April 15 filed a damning report before the Supreme Court, informing the court that large-scale illegal mining was on in Karnataka, especially in Bellary district. The committee alleged government officials and public representatives were hand-in-glove with the operators.CEC inspected the region in accordance with an Supreme Court order passed in February. The court had directed the committee to conduct a probe into the allegations of illegal mining in the state and submit a report within six weeks.
The court gave its order on a petition filed by an NGO that cited the Karnataka Lokayukta report stating mining activities were being carried not only illegally but also in forest land. The Lokayukta had also highlighted that the mining operators were carrying out work in over 2,000 square kilometers despite the Forest Department’s objections.
Before CEC inspected the Karnataka side of Bellaryregion, the committee had carried out a probe in Andhra Pradesh.