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Redraw Reddys leases,let mining ban stay: Survey of India to SC

In what can deal a major blow to the mining business of the Reddy brothers,two of whom are Cabinet ministers in Karnataka...

In what can deal a major blow to the mining business of the Reddy brothers,two of whom are Cabinet ministers in Karnataka,the Survey of India has recommended that the Andhra Pradesh government should redraw the leases of all their four mines,and continue with the ban on their mining activities until the demarcation is complete.

The Reddy brothers-promoted Obulapuram Mining Company has three mining leases,and their partnership firm Anantapur Mining Corporation has one — all in Andhra Pradesh,but in land bordering the Bellary Reserve Forest in Karnataka.

In a four-part series titled The Independent Republic of Reddys beginning March 17,2010,The Indian Express had reported how the Reddy brothers bent all rules and brazenly mined iron ore to build what is by their own admission a Rs 5,000-crore mining empire.

The Survey of India report,submitted to the Supreme Court today — a copy of which is available with The Indian Express — does not explicitly state that the Reddys have indulged in illegal mining.

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But it has found that boundary pillars are missing in the mines of the Reddy brothers,and that there are “major discrepancies” in lease sketches allotted to them by the Andhra Pradesh government. These discrepancies are such that the area of the Reddys’ mines extends into Karnataka,and also overlaps with the mine of rival miner Bellary Iron Ores Pvt Ltd,belonging to S K Modi.

According to the report,sketches provided to the Reddy brothers by two different departments — Forests and Mines & Geology — of the same state government,i.e. Andhra Pradesh,“differ substantially”. The leases of two mines — over 68.5 hectares and 39.5 hectares — both belonging to the Reddy brothers,extend into Karnataka,the report notes. This means that Reddys could technically undertake mining activities in Karnataka.

For instance,in the biggest lease of 68.5 hectares,the Survey of India has found that the lease area allotted,as per the Andhra Pradesh Mines & Geology Department sketch,is 77.8 hectares. The area allotted as per the AP Forest Department sketch is 66 hectares. The Reddys have occupied 68.4 hectares,an excess of 2.4 hectares,according to the report. “The occupied area shifts 100-150 metres towards Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh inter state boundary,” it says.

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“There is a mismatch between sketches of forest department and mining department of these two leases. Some of the mine lease boundaries fall on inter state boundary between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Though this is demarcated in the latest Survey of India map,both governments have not agreed to this boundary,” the report says.

Observing that “two departments of same government should not issue two different approved sketches”,the Survey of India has said,“Entire lease sketches issued in Bellary Reserve Forest need to be reviewed.” It has also asked the Supreme Court to direct the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the chief secretaries of the two states to decide the inter-state boundary in the Bellary Reserve Forest area to facilitate demarcation of the leases.

First published on: 30-04-2010 at 01:37:51 am
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