Relaxing the two-year freeze,the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has decided to resume considering mining proposals from Bellary,Tumkur and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka. However,it will keep a close watch on issues like availability of iron ore,its transport and other green laws while considering fresh mining projects.
The MoEF move comes after a Forest Bench of the Supreme Court allowed resumption of mining for 90 leases in the three districts on April 18 in a bid to ease iron ore supply to resource-starved domestic steel industry. The court had allowed reopening 27 A category and 63 B category mines.
The SC had in July-August 2011 banned mining in the three districts following reports of rampant illegal mining. The MoEF,on October 5,2011,had said neither the ministry nor the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority will consider any proposals seeking green nod to set up steel plants that use iron ore from the districts till the SC lifts the ban.
Leases of iron ore were classified by the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) as A,B and C. It is based on the level of illegalities and irregularities. The Forest Bench had cancelled 49 leases in C category mines where maximum illegalities were reported by the CEC.