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NGO seeks ban on mining in Karnataka, Andhra forests


Bangalore : Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, an NGO, Tuesday sought a ban on mining in the forest areas bordering Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh till the Survey of India completed the demarcation between the two states.

“We seek immediate stoppage of all mining in forest areas across the two states, including those areas where survey and demarcation has not been completed,” Samudaya representative S.R. Hiremath told reporters here.

The NGO filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in November 2009 against rampant illegal mining and encroachment of forest areas by some mining firms in Bellary district in north Karnataka and Ananthapur district in south Andhra Pradesh and prayed for staying the Karnataka government orders of 2003 and 1994, which de-reserved 11,620 sq km of forest area for private mining.

“We hope the spot assessment by the Supreme Court-appointed central empowered committee (CEC) of the illegal mining and encroachment of 1,079 hectares of forest land in Hospet-Sandur-Bellary region bordering Andhra Pradesh by the mining leaseholders during its recent visit (March 25-28) will pave way for ban on mining activity,” Hiremath asserted.

The apex court Feb 25 directed the four-member committee, headed by P.V. Jayakrishnan, to assess the violation of mining and forest laws in the region and measures taken by the state government to curb illegal mining and encroachment by the mining firms.

“The CEC is expected to submit its report by April 10 as it was given six weeks by the court. We are of the view that the panel has got enough material, including documents and evidence against the mining firms during the visit and the public hearing held at Ramgadh Sunday,” Hiremath pointed out.

The Samudaya held Karnataka’s Infrastructure and Tourism Minister G. Janaradhana Reddy, his brother and lawmaker G. Somasekhar Reddy and another Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Anand Singh from Hospet responsible for large-scale illegal mining and collapse of governance in Bellary district.

As part of its enquiry, the CEC sought specific response from the state government to a 13-point questionnaire it sent March 14 after a preliminary hearing in New Delhi March 10 on the issues raised by the NGO in its public interest litigation petition.

Among the companies accused of illegal mining and encroachments are Mysore Minerals Ltd, Jindal Steel Works (JSW), Vijayanagar Mineral Ltd, P.K. Halli Mines, Sparkline Mining Company, Ramgadh Mines and Minerals, Trident Minerals, S.B. Minerals and Laxmi Narayan Mines Ltd.