Friday, July 29, 2011

SC halts mining in Bellary

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stopped iron ore mining in Karnataka’s Bellary district after its environmental panel warned that the forest cover of the region would be completely destroyed because of the unlawful operations of mining barons whom the Centre and state governments have failed to stop.
SC’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) report said the Centre and the state government did not curb the illegal mining operations despite the Union environment ministry’s decision way back in 2001 not to allow fresh iron ore mining leases or renewal of existing ones in Bellary-Hospet region without a detailed environment impact assessment (EIA) of the region by the state.
The report, which comes on the heels of the findings of Karnataka Lokayukta holding Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and other politicians responsible for illegal mining in Bellary region, marks a sharp indictment of the callousness of successive governments at the Centre and in Karnataka towards the environmental havoc wrought by illicit mining in Bellary.
The CEC report said the state through NEERI, an independent environmental organization, had conducted a survey of the area and presented an environment management plan to the Centre in 2004.
“For one reason or the other, the report remained unimplemented and in the meantime, because of relentless mining, the damage to the environment and ecology of the region continued unabated. The matter got further compounded because of manifold increase in the mining activity in the last decade,” it said. Amicus curiae and senior advocate Shyam Divan told the green bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar that “the situation at present is alarming and calls for immediate radical remedial measures”.
The bench took radical measures by ordering complete suspension of iron ore mining activity in the entire Bellary district till further orders. It refused to permit mining by even those who had not violated any rule — two mines by public sector undertaking NMDC and two private ones.

Gowda, Acharya in race for K’taka CM’s post

DV Sadanand Gowda and V S Acharya seem to be emerging as frontrunners to succeed B S Yeddyurappa after a rollercoaster of a day of maneuovres of the outgoing chief minister and the counter-measures of the BJP leadership. P 9

Adani, Jindal scrips hit

Stocks of companies from the Sajjan Jindal group and the Adani group witnessed heavy selling pressure on the BSE on Friday following their indictment by the Karnataka Lokayukta. Adani Enterprises was the top loser, down 21% at Rs 586, while Adani Power was down nearly 12% to Rs 99. P 15

Mining ban puts the squeeze on Reddys

Bangalore: The Supreme Court order halting mining activity in Bellary district, along the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border, has not come a day too soon.
For years, all that has been evident in the chain of hillocks in ore-rich Bellary district of Karnataka are thick clouds of dust kicked up by dynamite blasts, destroying the environment, killing wildlife and pauperising small farmers. The mining of manganese and iron ore in the last decade in Hospet, Sandur and Bellary has played havoc.
But nobody spoke about it until the Karnataka Lokayukta headed by Justice Santosh N Hegde exposed the wrongdoings in its 11-month, 25,228-page investigative report submitted to the government recently. What has exacerbated things is the indiscriminate issue of licences for mining to the Reddy brothers and their ilk. The Lokayukta report has assessed that a whopping Rs 215.12 crore has been parked by G Janardhana Reddy, G Karunakara Reddy and their confidant B Sriramulu — all ministers in the BJP government — in the tax havens of Singapore and Dubai.
Keeping this in view, the Lokayukta recommended a thorough investigation by the IT department to ascertain the exact loss and bring the money back to India. The export consignments were highly undervalued, by 35%, which amounts to smuggling in the light of provisions of the Customs Act. The report said there are 478 suspected cases of under-invoiced exports during 2006-2010, amounting to over Rs 2,222 crore.
That's not all. The powerful Reddy brothers, who were taking political cover for the past three years by claiming their mining business was limited to Andhra Pradesh (Obulapuram Mining Company and Anantapur Mining Corporation), have been laid bare by the Lokayukta report. This substantiates that Janardhana and his wife G Lakshmi Aruna held 100% stake in Associated Mining Company (AMC) in Bellary from August 2009, and were actively involved in the mining business without even obtaining the necessary permits.
The final report also recommended the government to not only drop the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu from the cabinet but also to initiate action against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, to which the Reddys have taken objection.

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