Apex court allows iron ore export from major Karnataka ports (Lead)

February 11th, 2011 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday allowed the export of the iron ore lying at major ports of Karnataka after the state government banned its offshore movement in July 2010 in the wake of widespread allegations of illegal mining.An apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik, meanwhile, told the state government to notify the Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals Rules by March 31, 2011.

The court said that if the state government fails to notify the said rules by March 31, the iron ore mining companies can move the apex court for interim relief.

The Karnataka government had published the Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals Rules on Feb 5 this year to invite objections and suggestions by the public.

Appearing for one of the iron ore miners, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal told the court that the ban was imposed for six months and was to end this month but it seems that now it would go on indefinitely.

He said the public has been given 30 days to file objections or suggestions but no time frame is given for the consideration of the same. “I have export obligations and if I don’t fulfil them then I will be in a critical situation,” he said.

At this, the court said that miners too could give their suggestions on the draft rules.

Venugopal said the government was going back on the undertaking given by the state advocate general that the government would notify the regulations.

When the court was told that the issue needed to be looked from the angle of the miners also, Justice Raveendran said: “We have to look from the angle of the state and the people. Large quantities of iron ores are disappearing somewhere.”

At this, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that there could be some black sheep amongst the miners but that does not mean that illegal mining was going on throughout Karnataka.

The state government had July 26 and July 28, 2010, banned the export of iron ore in the wake of widespread reports of illegal mining. However, the ban on export of iron ore from minor ports of the state will continue.

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