The Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled 49 mining leases due to illegalities in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka, but allowed resumption of activity in mines with lesser illegalities, as recommended by a Central Empowered Committee.
CEC had categorised the mines in the area in three categories -- A, B and C. The mines with least or no irregularities were categorised as 'A' and those with maximum illegalities were placed in category 'C'.
The apex court, while accepting the majority of the recommendations made by the CEC since July 2011 on the mining issues in Karnataka, also said that illegal iron ore mining on the Andhra-Karnataka border would remain suspended till the demarcation of boundary between the two states is completed.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam, K S Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi passed the order on a plea by NGO Samaja Parivartana Samudaya, which had alleged that large-scale irregularities and illegalities were being committed by various private mining firms holding licences to mine in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts as well as the state-owned Mysore Mining Ltd.
The illegalities referred to included illegal mining activities, allotment of huge quantities of iron ore at throw-away prices to private companies and an increase in rates at which iron ore was supplied to some other companies.
Earlier, on September 3, 2012, the apex court had partially lifted its ban on mining operations in Karnataka, ordered more than a year ago, and gave a green signal for extraction of iron ores on 18 leases in category A mines, subject to certain conditions being fulfilled.
The bench had accepted the report of the CEC, which had said 18 leases be allowed to carry on their business in the districts of Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga as they have not violated any rules.