A three-judge special forest bench, headed by Justice A tab Alam, today made it clear that further resumption of mining operation in Karnataka “may happen at distant time”. The Supreme Court will on Monday pronounce its order on the roadmap for allowing resumption of activities at more iron ore mines in Karnataka.
The court said it might impose pre-conditions like payment for environmental damages and completion of reclamation and rehabilitation work for mining.
The counsel for apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee said pre-conditions like reclamation and rehabilitation work were likely to be completed only by July next year.
Resumption of operations at more mines can happen only after the pre-conditions are met. The apex court had banned all mining activities in Bellary and Hospet regions of Karnataka in July last year following report of widespread illegal mining.
The court-appointed Central Empowered Committee had divided mines in 11,153.16 ha area in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts in three categories–A, B and C–on the basis of extent of irregularities found.
On Sep 3, the court lifted the ban by allowing conditional resumption of mining operations in ‘category-A’ mines, where no irregularities were found by the panel.
The committee today recommended imposition of penalty for damages caused to the environment along with implementation of reclamation and rehabilitation work in the region for allowing mining resumption in category B mines.
It said around 180 bln rupees would be required in the next 30 years to undo the damages to environment caused by illegal mining. The panel said reclamation and rehabilitation work should be complete “on ground” for resumption of mining in category B mines.