Bellary: Reddys flout Supreme Court mining order

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Bellary, Karnataka:  Despite the Supreme Court order on Friday that all mining of iron-ore should be suspended in Bellary, the Reddy brothers, in blatant violation of the apex court's directions, seem to be carrying out their mining operations.

The district administration today ended up seizing 49 vehicles transporting iron-ore. The seized trucks belong to the Bellary Mining Corporation.

"We received information that there is some movement at the rake point. 49 vehicles have been seized so far. I have been asking them to produce the documents for an hour and a half and they haven't been able to produce it. The documents show permit for the July 30, which is against the Supreme Court order...these belong to Bellary Mining Corporation," said Aditya Biswas, Collector, Bellary district.

On Friday, the Supreme Court had said it was shocked by the extent of the environmental damage in Bellary. It wants the Karnataka government to take responsibility for restoring the ecological balance here by asking mining companies to pay for the clean-up required.

The court's questions are similar to those raised by the Karnataka Lokayukta, Santosh Hedge. In his report on illegal mining submitted to the state government this week, Mr Hegde said that politicians like Mr Yeddyurappa have colluded with mining companies to sanction violation of basic laws.  Mr Hegde listed a series of mining companies who illegally transport massive amounts of iron-ore to ports for export.

Bellary has 148 mines, of which 98 are located in forest areas and are at the centre of the controversy over the environmental problems in the area.  At least 40 leases for mining in forests had been declared void a few months ago.  

The Supreme Court, after a series of Public Interest Litigation petitions (PILs), had asked a special committee to tour Bellary.  After its survey in March, the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) said that the Karnataka government had failed to check illegal mining and that there was a connivance between different politicians, officials and companies.  The committee warned that at this rate, mineral reserves in the region will be exhausted within 20 years.

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