The Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) today termed the Karnataka government order of July 26 banning iron ore exports from minor ports in the state as unconstitutional and invalid.
"The Karnataka government has no right to trample on the fundamental right of a citizen guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business," FIMI Secretary General R.K. Sharma said.
Taking strong objection to the reaction of the state government to the rampant illegal mining thriving in the state, Sharma said in a letter to Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa that even the July 28 notification to withhold permits to move iron ore for export from the lease hold areas was unconstitutional and illegal.
"The knee-jerk reaction of the state government brings out its helplessness and its capacity to curb illegal mining of iron ore in the state," Sharma said.
Dubbing the twin ban orders illogical, FIMI director David Pichamuthu told reporters here that the organisation would go to court if the state government did not withdraw them with immediate effect.
"We will first prevail upon the government to rescind the orders by explaining the deleterious impact they are having on the industry, investments, business and employment. If the government does not respond, we will have no alternative but approach the courts," Pichamuthu said.
The mining body also questioned the powers of the state in issuing the twin notifications, as a major mineral like iron ore and its exports come under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Though the state government claimed that the ostensible reason for the twin notifications was to curb export of illegally mined ore from ports within and outside the state, Sharma asserted illegal miners did not require any permit to move ore from lease-hold areas.
"While illegal mining will definitely be not stopped, the economic consequences of the ban will render about 5,000 people directly employed in mining operations jobless and affect about 50,000 people engaged in ancillary works such as truck drivers, attendants, loaders and un-loaders at mines, rail yards and ports," Sharma said.
Observing that the reason for banning iron ore export was very strange, FIMI Vice Chairman Basan Poddar said illegal mining and illegal export of iron ore cannot take place without the connivance of officials or complicity of government agencies.
"Iron ore mine in Bellary/Hospet area are mostly in forest areas. The ore cannot be moved out without forest permits or clearance from the state mines & geology department. In addition, there are number of check-posts on way to ports manned by sales tax, road transport office and other departments," Poddar noted.