Bangalore: Exactly a year since former Supreme Court Judge, Justice (Retd) Santosh Hegde submitted the second report on illegal mining in the Karnataka, the mining sector continues to rue the consequences that followed which resulted in a blanket ban on all iron ore mining activity. The turn of events in the last one-year even witnessed former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, whose name features in the illegal mining scam, demanding a ‘Nobel prize’ for attempting to stop iron ore exports from Karnataka.
“Steel making is a continuous process and cannot be switched on and off,” K R Girish, former president of Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry had stated. He added that the decision to stop operations of blast furnace could be disastrous for the entire nation.
Sharing Karnataka’s contribution to the mining sector, experts said that the total iron and steel produced in Karnataka was to the tune of 16 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), constituting about 24 per cent of the country’s total iron and steel production. Furthermore, a joint team who surveyed the three districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur in the matter recommended that nearly 117 mining lessees could be given the permission to resume mining activities.
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), in its report recommended that 45 lessees coming under Category A and A(1), may be allowed to resume mining operations, subject to the fulfillment of the stipulated conditions while they had to further scrutinize 72 lessees falling under Category B. But this would be allowed to resume operations only once exemplary compensation/penalty was collected.
Central Empowered Committee had also directed authorities to cancel over 40 leases in C category and also cap iron ore mining in the state to be 30 million tonnes per annum. But the only progress came in July this year where it was said that eight mines in the state could be opened based on the recommendations made by the Indian Council of Forest Research and Education (ICFRE) who were looking into Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R).