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SC approves reclamation of Karnataka mines

The Supreme Court Friday gave its nod to its central empowered committee's plan for the reclamation and rehabilitation of the iron ore mines in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka.

An apex court forest bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Swatanter Kumar, while accepting the recommendations of the CEC, said that the implementation of reclamation and rehabilitation plans shall start immediately. The court made it clear that preparation, implementation and monitoring of the reclamation and rehabilitation plan will be under the supervision of the central empowered committee.

Responding to the plea of miners, the court asked the panel to inform it on the next hearing whether preparatory work for Category A mines could be started. It also asked it to make suggestions with regards to stockyard. Category A mines are those where the work is carried out by deployment of heavy mining machinery. While extending the terms of the present the monitoring committee for another two years, the court accepted the recommendation that in the "larger public interest the mining operations in the two leases of NMDC may be permitted to be continued. However, it will be liable to deposit penalty/compensation as payable for the mining leases falling in Category B (manual opencast mines).

The court also accepted the recommendation for a "ceiling of 25 million metric tonnes for total production of iron ore from all the mining leases in Bellary and a ceiling of 5 million metric tonnes for production of iron ore from all the mining leases in districts Chitradurga and Tumkur together..."

The recommendation accepted by the court said that the responsibility of the monitoring committee would involve monitoring the implementation of the various provisions/ prescriptions of the rehabilitation plans. The court said that the monitoring committee would ensure that the ceiling on annual production fixed for the lease was not crossed.

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