Want ban on iron ore export, Karnataka tells apex court (Lead)

April 21st, 2011 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The Karnataka government Thursday told the Supreme Court that it was committed to curbing the menace of illegal iron ore mining and favoured a ban on export of ore.

The state government in an affidavit said it “has taken stringent steps to curb the illegal mining”.

The recommendations made by the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to assist the forest bench were acceptable to it and it had already taken some steps for implementing them, said the affidavit filed by Karnataka Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath.

The affidavit was filed in response to a notice issued by the apex court on a CEC report which said that illegal mining in the state was going on on “a colossal scale” and could be worth over Rs.150 billion.

The CEC said that extensive illegal mining (earlier investigated by it) in other states was just a trickle before the extent illegal mining in Karnataka. The interim report of the CEC was submitted to the apex court April 15.

Ranganath said in the affidavit that the spurt in iron ore mining in Karnataka was on account of increased exports to meet the global demand, particularly from China, since 2003-04.

The apex court was told that “if the export of iron ore is banned as per the recommendation of Lokayukta (ombudsman), the same would strengthen the hands of the state government in bringing a complete stop to the menace of illegal mining”.

The court was told that “iron ore deposits in Karnataka are estimated to last for another three decades. It is therefore necessary to conserve the mineral resources”.

“There is an imperative need to impose a ban on the export of iron ore so as to make the same available only for domestic value addition only,” the government said.

The affidavit said that even Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde has recommended a complete ban on the export of iron ore.

The affidavit said that prior to the ban on export of iron ores, its transportation was not only adversely affecting the road network, but also causing damage to forests, flora, fauna, lakes and other water bodies.

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