Ensure sustainability, Karnataka’s mining industry urged

July 5th, 2012 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, July 5 (IANS) Karnataka’s scam-hit mining industry has been urged to ensure sustainability for safeguarding the interests of stakeholders and the environment.

“Sustainability should be the first priority of the mining industry, which suffered enormously due to illegal mining and export of iron ore over the years. The industry should put in place a fool-proof mechanism to safeguard the interests of all, including stakeholders, environment and the people,” former Karnataka Lokayukta (ombudsman) Justice (retd.) N. Santosh Hegde said at a conference here.

Expressing grave concern over the huge damage caused to environment and basic and social infrastructure in the mineral-rich districts of the state, especially Bellary due to the multi-crore mining scam in the past decade, the former Supreme Court judge said the natural resources should be used only for domestic consumption and not for raking money by exports.

Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur in north, central and southern region of the state are the main districts which boast of mineral reserves, especially iron ore and manganese.

“In my investigation reports on the mining scam, I have recommended to the state government to ban trading in iron ore, including its export as the mineral should be reserved only for domestic consumption by steel producers and end-users, as illegal mining and illegal exports not only caused huge loss to the exchequer, but also damaged infrastructure and the environment,” Hegde said at the OreTeam’s second annual conference on ‘Karnataka’s Iron Ore Mining & Steel making Capabilities’.

“The state government should change the mining policy to ensure the natural resources are not exploited for profit trading and exports but mined for value addition by manufacturers through transparent bidding process. It is the responsibility of the industry to protect the fragile environment and secure the welfare of the people living in the region,” Hegde told about 100 delegates, including captains of the industry, experts, policy makers and state government officials attending the two-day conference.

The forest bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, which banned mining activity across the state in July-August 2011 following the mining scam, partially lifted the ban April 20 in the three districts in the state with stiff conditions.

Sharing the industry’s concerns on huge loss of jobs and revenue due to the mining ban, Hegde said it was the price the industry and its stakeholders were paying due to the crimes of a few greedy mining firms, which flouted every rule in the book to make a quick buck at the expense of genuine people.

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