The Supreme Court today suspended mining operations in the Tumkur and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka and also banned transportation of iron ore from the two districts.
The mining ban comes after the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) set up by the apex court reported illegal iron ore mining activity in these districts resulting in environmental damage and loss of forest cover.
A special forest bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia also sought a reply from the ministry of environment and forests and the Karnataka government on the CEC report. The court is slated to hear the matter again on 2 September.
The illegal mining activity has resulted in environment degradation on a scale reported from Bellary district in the state, where the SC had in July suspended all mining operations.
Around 18 companies, including mining major Sesa Goa, operate mines in Chitradurga district, while 55 mining leases have been granted to various firms and individuals in Tumkur.
As of now, the region has a stock of 25 million tonnes of iron ore, according to data available with the Supreme Court. The court has now sought to know the monthly requirements of local steel companies so that it can give release orders as also the modalities of sale and transportation.