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SC partially OK's Karnataka iron ore mining

Supreme Court on Friday gave a ray of hope to ‘A’ category of miners on resuming mining of iron ore in Karnataka by accepting a Central Empowered Committee report, which recommended restarting of mining after certain preparatory actions, including rehabilitation and reclamation of the depleted areas, were undertaken.

A three-judge Forest Bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia however, refused to hear a plea of private miners on the boundary disputes with regard to their mining leases falling in three districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur.

The court said that “At the moment, we are taking up the report on rehabilitation and reclamation (R and R). Let the R and R go through. We will certainly pass orders later, if rights of the lease holders are affected.”

The Bench told the miners that the R and R plans were must before consideration of any plea. It said that “R and R is a condition precedent.”

The court approved the CEC’s report which had called for resumption of mining in ‘A’ category of leases where the apex court-appointed panel did not find any irregularities in their operation.

The court said that “As far as ‘A’ category of mining leases are concerned, recommendations made by the CEC in the report dated April 18, 2012, are accepted with a specific clarification that individual R and R reports of each mining lease would specify unbroken forest area. Mining, which is to be resumed in appropriate areas in category ‘A’, however, would not extend to unbroken forest areas.”

The Bench also directed the Environment Ministry to revisit the statutory clearances granted by it to miners in light of the R and R plan.

The court also said that “We are not saying mining can commence. We want preparatory work only at the moment.”

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