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Tuesday, June 18

30 million tonnes iron ore looted

30 million tonnes iron ore looted

The Hindu, Bangalore

Bangalore, July 10, 2010: Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Friday told the Legislative Assembly that illegal iron ore export had been going on for the last seven years and a whopping 30 million tonnes of ore had been illegally exported from the State.

Iror OreIn his 21-page reply to a weeklong debate on the resignation of the Karnataka Lokayukta and illegal mining in the State, Mr. Yeddyurappa said political parties that formed governments had given mining permits to their party men and relatives and were allowed to “loot” the ore illegally.

Besides exporting ore from Mangalore, Karwar and Belekeri ports, over 76 million tonnes had been exported from Chennai, Mormugao, Krishnapatnam, Kakinada and Visakhapatnam ports. The ore was also illegally exported from ports located in other States, he said.

Illegal export

He said illegal export of iron ore was 20,49,961 tonnes in 2003-04; 52,39,528 tonnes in 2004-05; 21,71,492 tonnes in 2005-06; 47,44,645 tonnes in 2006-07; 57,61,048 tonnes in 2007-08; 33,96,126 tonnes in 2008-09 and 71,27,937 tonnes in 2009-10.

A total of 284.5 lakh tonnes was exported from Chennai port, 264 lakh tonnes from Mormugao, 117 lakh tonnes from Krishnapatnam, 81 lakh tonnes from Kakinada, 17.5 lakh tonnes from Visakhapatnam ports from 2003 to 2010, he said.

Miners have extended their mining in 7,558 hectares of forest land in the State against 15,387 hectares in Orissa, 13,532 hectares in Andhra Pradesh, 10,058 hectares in Madhya Pradesh, and 4,996 hectares in Rajasthan. He added there are about 15,000 illegal mines in the country.

Besides destruction of ecology and roads in the State, mining had led to degradation of groundwater level and had adversely affected the health of many people, and this was confirmed by a study conducted by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, he said.

The Dharam Singh Government had issued notifications for 33 mining permits, the Kumaraswamy Government 19, nine during the Presidents’ Rule and only two by the BJP Government, he said.

Hope for transparency
The Chief Minister, who referred to a mining story published in Frontline dated July 16, 2010, said the Government has taken several steps to curb illegal mining and illegal transportation of ore.

It has decided to introduce e-permits to ensure transparency in granting permits for mining.

The Government had announced a new mining policy in 2008 to encourage value addition for minerals.

A decision has been taken to give permits for only those companies which set up industries to provide value addition to the ore.

To check illegal transportation of ore, check-posts and integrated check-posts have been established in several places in Chitradurga, Tumkur, Bellary, Dakshina Kannada, and Uttara Kannada districts, he said.

Permits of companies involved in illegal mining would not be renewed and the Government was in favour of banning iron exports, he pointed out.

Instead of bulk permits, permits would be given to each load and trip.

Toll plazas would be set up in 10 places and information on mining would be obtained through high resolution satellite data and images. A coordination and empowered committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, has been set up to monitor cases related to mining, he said.

A toll of Rs. 500 was imposed on each truck of iron ore load and collection stood at Rs. 320 crore. The forest development tax collection recorded was Rs. 336 crore in 2009-10 and Rs. 187 crore so far, he said.

Lokayukta’s demands
Referring to the demands of the Lokayukta, he said 15 posts had been sanctioned last May and 12 technical posts last month.

A notification has been issued to sanction 292 new posts. Permission has been granted to set up the Lokayukta office at newly crated Yadgir district. An order has been issued to provide free bus passes to the Lokayukta police, the Chief Minister said.

However, dissatisfied with the reply, the Opposition staged a dharna in the House. The Speaker adjourned the House for Monday.

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