Center backs SC plea for removal of iron export ban from Karnataka
The Center supported in the Supreme Court a plea by Karnataka miners to allow them to export their iron ore stocks, saying the situation has improved since the ban was imposed in the state due to illegal mining and encroachment on forest lands.
“In other parts of the country, there is no restriction on the export of iron ore. The restriction imposed on Karnataka was in an extraordinary situation prevailing then due to unprecedented illegal mining. However, as the situation has changed, the court may allow the export to bring these mines on par with other states,” he said.
The top court, which had asked the Union government to clarify its position on the plea of a group of miners, is due to consider the matter on Monday. Mining companies claimed they were dying and at risk of closing because their stocks were not being sold or receiving real prices due to Karnataka’s export ban, while steel companies, on the other hand, imported iron ore.
In a written response, the Ministry of Mines pointed out that the high court had issued a series of orders, including on August 5, 2011 and September 1, 2014, in a situation where illegal mining was rampant with encroachment on forest land, especially for use as overburdened landfills resulting from excessive mining in Karnataka.
This led to some environmental and ecological degradation, which required legal intervention to resolve the situation. The court then also kept in mind the interest of the end-use industry.
However, the scenario has since improved and the regulatory mechanism has also changed significantly with the 2015 amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. New rules established in 2021 provided for the allocation of mining concessions through a transparent auction process and strict criminal provisions for effective deterrence, the introduction of star rating for sustainable mining and administrative measures by launching the mining surveillance system, including a drone survey. He also maintained that issues related to the regulation and control of illegal mining are primarily the domain of state governments.
The government also cited the Centered Empowered Committee reports of June 29, 2020 and July 18, 2019, appointed by the court, which favored the review of the orders of the highest court regarding the total ban on the export of iron ore. Ballari, Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts. .
The CEC had also said that the Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association’s opposition to the export of iron ore and pellets was mainly based on commercial considerations and not directly related to the issues. environmental issues related to mining.
The high court had, on April 18, 2013, imposed a ban on the export of iron ore from the three districts of Karnataka and set the maximum annual production limit allowed.
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