Under pressure from the Karnataka High Court to provide evidence of sincerity to tackle illegal mining in the state,Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and Bellary district in charge minister G Janardhan Reddy on Tuesday held a rare brain storming session with officials to outline measures to curb illegal mining,especially in the iron ore rich Bellary region.
The meeting was held in the background of a division bench of the Karnataka High Court giving the BJP government time till September 3 to outline measures it has taken to control illegal mining in the state since imposing a ban on exports and transport of iron ore on July 26 and July 28 this year.
Following the meeting,the government announced the immediate strengthening of 13 check posts in the Bellary region,introduction of 24-hour surveillance with closed circuit television at some check posts and the creation of 20 new Forest and Mines Department inspection squads. This was the first time that CM B S Yeddyurappa,who handles the Forest and Mines Department in the state,and Tourism Minister G Janardhan Reddy who has been the de facto minister for all departments in the Bellary region,were sitting together to address the illegal mining issue.
We have planned 20 squads,and of these 13 are activated to keep a 24-hour watch. They will comprise of forest,police,transport,commercial taxes,public works and revenue, Yeddyurappa said.
Seven additional inspection squads would be carved out by the Forest and Mines Department to run checks on illegal mining,he said,adding that the licences of 58 private yards storing iron ore were cancelled for irregularities. Yeddyurappa also said that in the future,iron ore will only be stocked in government-designated yards.
The Chief Minister is taking all necessary steps to curb illegal mining, Janardhan Reddy said after the meeting.
With reference to the transport of 8.05 lakh tonnes of illegal ore from the Bellary region to the Belikeri port cited by the state government as one reason for the ban,Chief Justice J S Khehar had said it was difficult to understand how the entire state machinery could not stop the thieves.
The court had given the Karnataka government seven days to come up with answers on how long they would need to start implementing measures to check illegal mining and to clearly state how long the ban on exports and iron ore transport would remain in place.
After the court made its observations,the state government carried out a raid on the mining stockyard of V S Lad and Sons,a company run by Congress politicians in Bellary,which is among those that have gone before the High Court questioning the ban on iron ore exports. Anil Lad,a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha,called the raids politically motivated,but Reddy on Tuesday said that the raid was a sign of government officials dispensing their duties and that it cannot be called political vendetta.