Iron ore miner’s plea: Supreme Court seeks Karnataka govt’s response

By: |
January 7, 2021 3:30 AM

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from the Karnataka government on a plea by Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), Southern Chapter, seeking permission to allow its member miners, whose leases in the three districts of Ballari, Tumakuru and Chitradurga expired on March 31, 2020, to lift the excavated iron ores sold through e-auction.

The industry body sought a direction to put the excavated iron ores for e-auction until the whole stock was sold out.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from the Karnataka government on a plea by Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), Southern Chapter, seeking permission to allow its member miners, whose leases in the three districts of Ballari, Tumakuru and Chitradurga expired on March 31, 2020, to lift the excavated iron ores sold through e-auction.

A bench led by Chief Justice S A Bobde sought a response from the state government as well as the monitoring committee and others on the FIMI plea wanting a direction to the monitoring committee to continue putting up the unsold ore lying in the mining lease areas of these lessees for e-auction until the entire stock was sold and also take steps to facilitate transportation of the gold ores. It also posted the matter for further hearing on January 29.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for FIMI, argued that although 39 mining leases situated in these three districts, expired as on March 31, 2020, by operation of law, a large quantity of iron ore, approximately 23.72 lakh MT, that was produced before the expiry of the leases, was lying over there. He wanted that the ore should be removed.

The industry body sought a direction to put the excavated iron ores for e-auction until the whole stock was sold out. “Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a grave and deleterious impact on all business activities across all the sectors resulting in cascading fall in demand for iron ore and even delays and lapses in transport, of ore which has been purchased. Consequently, large quantities of iron ore remain unsold and, were sold, un-transported from the mining lease area, till date,” FIMI stated.

It further sought parity with lessees in Odisha which allegedly has access to an open market. “The Odisha government has extended the timeframe for disposal of existing stocks iron ore in leases located in that State, to beyond September 30, 2020,” the industry body stated, adding that the statutory prescription giving only six months to the lessees to clear and sell the ore should be extended in Karnataka as well.

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