New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Karnataka government till the end of March to put in place the new rules which the government has proposed in an attempt to prevent illegal mining and transportation of ore in the state.
The court also allowed iron ore, which was stored at major ports before the ban came into force, to be exported. This comes as a relief to some miners in the state, such as Mineral Enterprises Limited, which told the court it had 68,637 tonnes waiting to be exported at Mangalore port.
The government has proposed draft rules called the Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals 2011.
In July last year, the government had banned the export of ore from 10 minor ports and stopped issuing permits for its internal transportation, in a bid to curb rampant illegal mining, especially from the Bellary-Hospet region of the state.
The government’s new rules were made public on 5 February for objections and comments from the general public, including the mining industry, which have to be made within 30 days.
The court then gave the state government “reasonable” time, which it interpreted as the end of March, to notify the new rules and lift the ban on the export and transport of ore.
On Friday, the mining companies, which included Sesa Goa, MSPL, SB Minerals, RBSSN and Mineral Enterprises Limited, argued that the government was delaying the lifting of the temporary six-month ban by taking time to notify the new rules. They also contended that the new rules nothing to do with exporting ore. The companies are challenging the ban on the basis that it is unconstitutional as it affects their right to livelihood under Article 19(1)(g).
The court responded that the government was trying to solve the grievances of the public at large and that the mining companies should see this in a positive light by giving suggestions to the government.
The court will next hear the matter on 4 April, saying that if the government doesn’t put in place the requisite mechanism by then, the companies would be allowed to ask the court for relief.