In an interim order, the Supreme Court has permitted the state-run NMDC to operate two mines in Bellary district.
The NMDC, which has been granted leases by the state government, was permitted by the Supreme Court to extend the production of iron ore to the tune of one million tonnes per month from Saturday.
Incidentally, the NMDC finds a mention in the Lokayukta report due to alleged lease violations.
The Special Forest Bench, headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, maintained that this order does not apply to private mine owners of Bellary and the ban on mining shall continue for them.
The interim order also states that while mining would be permitted for the NMDC, no part of the ore shall be exported. Further, the bench also directed the Karnataka government to levy a royalty of 10 per cent of the value of the iron ore.
The Supreme Court also directed that a macro-level environment impact report assessment be undertaken by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education. The bench directed that the report should be submitted in three months.
The bench also sought details about the rehabilitation package for Bellary within three months.
The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on an interlocutory application seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and Special Investigation Team into illegal mining in Karnataka.
Senior Counsel Prashant Bhushan said that the application, while seeking a CBI or SIT probe, also takes note of the latest Lokayukta report. The matter is expected to be heard next week.