SC rules out quick resumption of full-scale iron ore mining

The Supreme Court on Friday accepted the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), a green panel, to restart iron ore mining in Karnataka, on a limited basis; but with stringent conditions.

While giving 'in principle' approval to 45 mines listed under category 'A' by CEC in its March report and some category 'B' mines owned by the National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC) to restart mining and sell the product through e-auctions, the apex court said that it will not relax its order banning mining operations in Karnataka unless iron ore mining companies complete the clean-up and land reclamation regulations.

The CEC has said it will come up with a plan to implement the reclamation and rehabitation scheme next week.

The Supreme Court had last year capped iron ore production from Bellary, the most prolific iron ore region, at 25 million tonne per annum (mtpa) and from the remaining mines in Chitradurga and Tumkur districts at 5 mtpa in the wake of widespread reports of illegal and ecologically destructive mining in the state.

Bellary is the fiefdom of the Reddy brothers J Karunakaran and J Janardhan, both formerly powerful state ministers whose operations are now under a cloud.

A Supreme Court forest bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar on Friday said it would hear further details on the progress of the case on 20 April.