Karnataka bans export of iron ore to check illegal mining

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Bangalore:  Export of iron ore has been banned from Karnataka's ports.

On Monday, the Karnataka government ordered closure of the ports, except in Mangalore, which falls under Central jurisdiction, to check illegal export of iron ore. The state government has also banned the transport of iron ore for export.

Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, who has been facing flak from Congress and Janata Dal (S), said, "When I met Prime Minister, I requested complete ban of iron ore export, and I have taken the decision with the all-India (BJP) leadership. From tomorrow onwards we are not going to allow export at any cost. Only those who are having steel industries in Karnataka will be allowed to supply this iron ore."

A few days ago,  Yeddyurappa met the Prime Minister and asked him to ban the export of iron ore from the country. At the center of the controversy are the powerful Reddy brothers, mining barons and cabinet ministers in the state.

Interestingly, the controversial Reddy brothers own mines in Andhra Pradesh and can still export from that state. They also have major plans for a steel plant.

"The mine owners they should not export the ore from our country.They should support for value added project. As a mine owner, I am doing a steel plant in Andhra Pradesh," says Janardhan Reddy, who is also the Karnataka's tourism minister.

Karnataka produces approximately 65 million tonnes of iron ore  in a year - of which as much as 47 million tonnes was exported in 2009.  Iron ore exporters in the state are of course less than happy at the ban on exports, and  say they will consider legal action if necessary. "Central government is the deciding authority for exports, the state government just issues permits," says Raghavendra Rao of the MSPL mines in Hospet.

There are eyebrows being raised also at the timing of the decision - iron ore exports are negligible during the monsoons.

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