Bowing to intense pressure from the Centre,the Karnataka government seems to have finally woken up to the menace of illegal mining as its officials recently raided and seized huge amounts of unaccounted iron ore from the Bellikere and Karwar ports.
As suggested by the union mines ministry,action is being taken to check the production of ore,tally it with the quantity unutilized locally and exported. A drive was taken up at Bellikere and Karwar ports on March 2,2010 to check the transportation of ore without valid permits and action has been taken to stop 10,14,589 tonnes and further investigation is on. Whats more,two officers working in the district of North Canara have been suspended for dereliction of duty. The forest department conducted raids on 15-3-2010 which resulted in the seizure of 5 lakh million tones at Bellikere port and 50,000 tonnes at Karwar port, the Karnataka government said in its Action Taken Report (ATR) in response to the Lokayukta report,submitted to the mines ministry last week. Incidentally,this appears to be the first ever communication from the state to the ministry on this issue.
The state has drawn intense criticism for its callousness in cracking down on the errant miners who have been over-extracting iron ore with impunity by flouting the mining plans and resorting to encroachment on others mines. Notwithstanding this drive,the BS Yedyurappa government has so far not agreed to initiate a CBI probe as asked by the mines ministry to nail down the erring miners. Illegal mining has assumed epidemic proportions in the states ore-rich Bellary and Hospet districts. Mining regulator Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) had recently launched a fresh offensive in Bellary district to ascertain the situation of nearly 80 mines. In the first round of its crusade against illegal mining,the mines ministry had tasted success with the IBM detecting serious violations in 60 of the 106 mines it inspected,while taking cognizance on minor violations in another 56 mines.
A copy of the ATR in the possession of The Indian Express reveals that the Karnataka government also filed 56 Forest Offences Cases against miners pertaining to encroachment on the forest land. Complying to the directive of the Karnataka High Court,the Forest Department has stopped mining by leaseholders in the encroached forest area.
The state has clearly decided that no mining would be allowed in the Western Ghats and the ecologically sensitive national parks, the ATR added.