The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) Friday recommended the cancellation of the mining leases of Reddy brothers in the Bellary reserved forest area, saying they were engaged in illegal mining.
The CEC recommended to the forest bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan to cancel their mining lease and impose exemplary costs on them. The Reddy brothers are leading ministers in the Karnataka government.
The report said the fine should be deposited with the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAMPA).
The apex court had asked the CEC to examine if mining was going on in the Bellary forest area bordering Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The CEC was asked to suggest what action could be taken against the Reddy brothers for engaging in illegal mining.
Amicus Curie Harish Salve submitted the report to the forest bench, which gave Reddy brothers two weeks time to file their reply.
The report said that besides the cancellation of the three licences of the Reddy brothers, the licence of company AMC should also be axed as it was renewed 17 years after it had expired.
The report said that mining companies of the Reddy brothers should be made to pay exemplary compensation for encroaching upon the forest area beyond the approved lease area for mining.
‘It recommended that the exemplary compensation may be assessed and recovered at the rate of 20 times of the normal Net Present Value payable for the forest area used by them,’ the repot said.
‘The mining done in the forest area after 2004 is illegal and the value of the mineral extracted from the reserved forest after April 2004 should be recovered from the lease holders based on the normative market value of the mineral extracted from the area,’ it said.
Similarly, two other leases of 39.5 and 68.5 hectares should be cancelled as the mining was done illegally as the area differed from what had been approved.
The CEC has recommended the suspension of all mining operations, including the already extracted material, till the inter-State boundary between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka was formally determined and permanent pillars were laid on the ground.
The CEC recommended putting in place effective system of checks and balances and monitoring to ensure that no illegal mining takes place outside the lease area.
The CEC further recommended that no mining activity should be permitted upto a distance of 50 meters on either side of the inter-state boundary between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.