Karnataka seeks ban on export of iron ore, minerals

Bangalore, July 3 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has sought a ban on export of iron ore and other minerals to prevent loss of precious natural resources, which are not renewable.

‘There is an urgent need for a comprehensive policy to ban export of iron ore and ensure such precious minerals are utilised for value addition within the country,’ Yeddyurappa said in a letter Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, released to the media Saturday.

The chief minister’s letter comes in the wake of a raging controversy in the state over rampant export of illegal iron ore from the rich mineral districts of north Karnataka over the years.

Admitting that pressure on export of iron ore continued despite the state government’s efforts to check it, Yeddyurappa said that unbridled export of minerals would lead to loss of precious natural resources.

‘At this rate, in a few years, the country will exhaust all its mineral resources. Unless this is stopped, we will be doing a great disservice to our future generations,’ he noted.

In this context, Yeddyurappa urged the prime minister to call for a meeting of the chief ministers of mineral-rich states to decide on banning export of iron ore and minerals.

Noting that over exploitation of mines and illegal mining had been a major concern of all the mineral rich states, he said despite the best efforts of the state governments, the menace persisted resulting in indiscriminate export of iron ore and other minerals.

‘Unless iron ore export is banned, undue exploitation of natural resources and illegal mining will continue,’ Yeddyurappa contended.

The state government has already decided to allow mining of iron ore or other minerals only for value addition to curb the export of iron ore in the form of raw material.

‘Karnataka is the first state in the country to introduce the value added policy in December 2008 for granting mining leases. As per the policy, the state recommends mining leases only for value addition within Karnataka by processing the iron ore through a manufacturing facility,’ the letter stated.

In accordance with the new policy, the state government recently signed agreements with a dozen firms, including ArcelorMittal, Posco, Essar and Tata Metaliks for setting up steel plants in the rich iron belt of Bellary district in north Karnataka.

The state government has also decided to stop issuing bulk permits, which were being misused by miners. Instead, specific permits will be issued for each load and trip.

Besides introducing bar coding and hologram based trip-sheets to improve tracking of consignments and avoid fake permits, the government has placed integrated check-posts at key locations across the state for better coordination of various departments such as mining, forest, commercial taxes, transport and PWD.

The state government plans to introduce e-permits to ensure transparency and accountability.

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