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‘Illegal mining thriving in Karnataka’

Bangalore, July 8 (IANS) Karnataka’s leading mining firm MSPL Ltd of the Baldota group Thursday claimed that rampant illegal mining of iron ore is thriving in the Sandur belt of Bellary district under political patronage and against the rule of law.

‘Three mining firms have been illegally mining iron ore by encroaching into our mines over the last 16 months,’ a senior company official told IANS here.

The quantum of iron ore illegal mined by the three firms from Bharata Rayan Harivu (BRH) mines of group company Ramgad Mines & Minerals Ltd (RMML) till date is estimated to be 450,000 tonnes valued at Rs.2,484 crore (Rs.24.84 billion), he said.

‘Though BRH mines, spread over 819 acres, in Sandur were transferred to us by the Dalmia group in 2000, we could not start mining for want of second state clearance from the state forest department,’ MSPL executive director Praveen Tugnait charged.

‘Whereas these three firms, who have mining leases for the adjacent mines, have encroached into our mines and transporting the rich iron ore to local steel plants and exporting it with impunity,’ Tugnait asserted.

‘We have brought to the notice of the local authorities, including the police, the forest department and the district administration from Feb 25, 2009 to Nov 30, 2009. However, no action is taken against them,’ Tungait lamented.

‘The act of illegal and transportation by the three firms is a blatant violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, which is still continuing despite a directive by the Karnataka High Court to stop it,’ Tungait said.

After running pillar to post, including a representation to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, the beleaguered company approached the ministry of environment and forests for relief by seeking a central directive to the state.

‘We hope the state government will comply with the directive of Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had written to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyruappa July 3 to stop illegal mining in BRH mines and submit a status report by July 10,’ Tungait noted.

‘The continuation of mining in the region was in complete violation of the forest advisory committee resolution issued May 10, which clearly and explicitly directed that such mining be stopped,’ Ramesh said in the letter to the state government.

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