Panel seeks report on illegal mining


Bangalore : A Supreme Court-appointed committee Friday sought a report from the Karnataka government on the measures it had taken to curb illegal mining in the state.

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Following a writ petition filed by a non-government organisation Samudaya Parivartana Samaj, the five-member panel was set up Feb 25 under the chairmanship of P.V. Jayakrishnan to assess the extent of illegal mining in the reserve forest area of Bellary district in the northern region of the state.

On the eve of its two-day visit to the district for spot assessment, the panel discussed the issues with state Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, forest department Principal Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, Mining secretary B.S. Ramaprasad and other officials.

“The committee sought details and the follow-up action taken on the Lokayukta’s (ombudsman) interim report that revealed that 1,081 hectares of forest area were encroached in the Bellary-Hospet-Sandur region by mining leaseholders,” a senior official told reporters after the meeting.

The Supreme Court has sought from the state government details of leases, including the area approved under the Mines Act, forest area included in the mining lease, clearances sought under the Forest Conservation Act and lease sketches.

After a hearing in New Delhi March 10 with the officials, the committee sent a 14-point questionnaire to the state government for a detailed response.

“The committee members have personally come to assess the situation, as the response of the state mines and geology department to the questionnaire was not satisfactory on the action taken to check illegal mining in the forest region,” Samaj representative S.R. Hiremath said.

The Samaj also wanted to know what action the state government took on the report of forest Chief Conservator U.V. Singh submitted to the ombudsman Sep 12, 2009.

During his investigation, Singh had seized machinery engaged in illegal mining in the Sandur area.

In the Ramgad mining area, dozen mining firms were alleged to have engaged in illegal mining, as per Singh’s report.