SC panel in favour of approvals for mining in Karnataka

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to extend its previous order on opening 18 mining leases in Karnataka to also allow extraction of iron ore in all category 'A' and category 'B' mines.

"The CEC is of the view that by and large substantial progress has been made on reclamation and rehabilitation works in 'A' and 'B' category of mines… perhaps the time has come to extend the order on all mines in both categories," senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing as amicus curiae, told a Forest Bench led by Justice Aftab Alam.

Reading out the contents of the CEC report of February 15, Divan said the court may consider extending its order of September 3, 2012, by which mining operations were permitted to be resumed in 18 'A' category mining leases, to all the leases under this category, subject to certain conditions including payment of additional compensatory amounts.

Divan said that the rehabilitation and reclamation (R&R) plans have been prepared and approved by the court-mandated CEC for 51 mining leases — 28 in category 'A' and 23 in category 'B' mining areas.

He said resumption of mining in 'B' category could be restarted only after those leases complied with the condition laid down by the apex court in its order on September 28, last year. The court had then directed 'B' category mining leases to pay compensation at the rate of Rs 5 crore per hectare for areas under illegal mining pits and at the rate of Rs 1 crore per hectare for areas under illegal over burden dumps, roads, offices etc.

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