Apex court could have done more: Mining industry

| | Updated on: Feb 11, 2011

The Supreme Court ruling on Friday – allowing export of the iron ore lying in major ports and directing the State Government to notify the Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals Rules by March 31, 2011 – evoked mixed reactions from the mining industry.

Sections of the industry termed it an “unfair order”, expecting the apex court to allow miners to export the ore in their stockyard. “Miners hardly keep stocks of ore in the ports,” they said.

Mine owner Mr Tapal Ganesh who is fighting a battle against illegal mining, told Business Line that the Supreme Court ruling was a “welcome development”. “As long as the iron ore is from legally permitted mines, the ruling is a good development,” he said.

Mr V.P. Baligar, Principal Secretary, Commerce and Industry, said, “I can react only after seeing the order, and not on the basis of news reports.”

Mr Narendrakumar Baldota, Chairman and Managing Director, MSPL, said in a statement: “The mining fraternity was hoping that the apex would pronounce orders in favour of the industry. International iron prices have been skyrocketing and Karnataka is unable to take advantage of the same. While we are willing to sell the produced ore locally, the consumption patterns are not in line with international demand.”

Mr Baldota said that the blanket ban on iron ore exports since July 2010 had hurt the mining industry, even as illegal mining continued. “Instead of stopping illegal mining, they stopped legal mining. Illegal mining continued unabated, as its movement is happening without any permits and documents,” he said.

Mr Baldota said, “The mining industry as a whole in the State would have lost business close to Rs 50,000 crore and the State and Central Government would have lost close to Rs 700 crore as revenues in the form of royalty and taxes. MSPL alone has suffered losses close to Rs 5,000 crore in the last two years.”

Mr Santosh Lad, Congress MLA and Chairman, S Lad Group, said: “The Court has allowed miners to export whatever had been cleared before July. That is indeed a relief. However, the ban was nothing but an eyewash. Illegal mining is not stopped.”

According to the MSPL statement, the Karnataka mining industry employs close to 60,000 people directly and over 3,00,000 people indirectly.

Published on February 11, 2011

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