New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a probe by its committee into alleged illegal mining in Bellary and other forest areas of Karnataka.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia asked the apex court-appointed central empowered committee to conduct the probe and file its report within six weeks.
The court passed the order on an oral mention made by advocate Prashant Bhushan who said that the report of the Karnataka Lokayukta clearly stated that mining activities were being carried not only illegally but also stretched to areas categorised as forest land.
"Rampant illegal mining is going on in Karnataka and the same has been recorded by detailed report of Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde," he pleaded before a bench also comprising justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishanan.
Earlier, the bench had directed the CEC to probe the Andhra Pradesh side of the Bellary region.
The apex court`s direction came over a petition filed
by an NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya alleging that the
governments in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have failed to
stop the rampant illegal mining of iron ore.
"Failure of the respective states to control the
illegal mining has led to large-scale destruction both of
forest land as well as non-forest land and adversely affected
the livelihood of local people especially the rural poor," the
It accused the Centre of having failed to check the
menace of illegal mining in Karnataka.
"The Union of India through both the Ministry of
Environment and Forest and the Ministry of Mines has not
exercised enough checks and balances to curtail illegal
mining in the two states," the petition submitted.
It alleged that illegal mining has resulted in "an
encroachment of 1114.8 hectares of forest land in Karnataka".
"This problem was recognised by the State of Karnataka
when the issues of illegal mining were raised in Legislative
Assembly and the Justice UL Bhat Commission of Enquiry was
constituted under the Commission of Enquiries Act to inquire
into various aspects of illegal mining and certain allegations
raised against Government of Karnataka," the NGO submitted.
Later, Karnataka Lokayukta also submitted a detailed
report on large-scale mining-related irregularities in the
State of Karnataka showing "how through the active connivance
of miners, officials and politicians, established laws and
procedures were given a go by to benefit a few mining
companies at the cost of the ecology as well as revenue of the
It further submitted that the Lokayukta report
highlighted that forest area to the extent over 2000 sq kms
were made available for mining by private entities despite
specific objections by the Forest Department.
"The entire illegal mining operation had led to a
culture of corruption and a maladministration which threatens
the rule of law.
"Despite the submission of the Report of the Lokayukta
no action seems to have been taken place and the situation on
the ground remains the same with illegal mining continuing. In
particular no action has been taken against the illegal mining
along the inter-state border between Karnataka (Bellary
district) and Andhra Pradesh (Anantpur district)," it said.
The NGO requested the apex court to pass "order or
direction, directing immediate steps be initiated by both the
states and the Union of India to stop all mining and other
related activities in forest areas of Andhra Pradesh and
Karnataka which are in violation".
Earlier, CEC had filed a report on January 7 this year
before the apex court, over the illegal mining in the Anantpur
district of Andhra Pradesh and had recommended cancellation of
mining lease to Karnataka`s powerful Reddy brothers` firm
Obulapuram Mining Company.
Slamming the Andhra Pradesh government, the committee
had said that OMC had openly flouted various environmental
laws in mining operations and it could not have taken place
without the connivance of government officials.
It had also recommended cancellation of the lease to
four different mines spread over 140 acres on grounds of,
among others, large-scale illegal mining in Bellary Reserve
The Reddy brothers include G Janardhan Reddy and G
Karunakar Reddy who are ministers of Karnataka.