A high-powered probe panel set up by the Supreme Court recommended on Friday an immediate ban on illegal mining on the Andhra-Karnataka border. The central empowered committee (CEC) was set up to probe allegations of massive violation of environment laws by owners of Obulapuram Mining Co (OMC), owned the powerful Reddy brothers of Bellary in Karnataka.
Though Karnataka minister G Janardhana Reddy maintains there is no illegality in the mining, the CEC report indicts the Andhra Pradesh government, saying the state functionaries' effort was "to cover up illegal mining by OMC" in areas outside those approved in mining lease claims.
The apex court's green bench will consider the committee's report next week.
CEC is highly critical of the Andhra government's conclusion that OMC was not involved in any illegal mining in forest areas. "The government's conclusion suffers from serious defects and inconsistencies and is not at all in conformity with the approved mining leases," it said.
The panel has also taken to task the government of the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, as it notes, "The objectivity, fairness and impartiality expected from a state government is shockingly lacking here and does not inspire confidence. There are substantial differences and serious discrepancies in the mining lease boundaries determined and those fixed now by the state forest department."
"Without doubt, there existed un-allotted forest area between three mining leases of OMC, Bellary Iron Ore Pvt Ltd and Y M Sons, wherein illegal mining has taken place," CEC noted.
"All mining activity, including the transportation of already mined material from all the six mining leases, should remain suspended till the demarcation of boundaries is done," CEC member M K Jiwrajka said.