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An order has been given by the Supreme Court to “complete closure” of mines categorised as having maximum illegalities in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts in Karnataka, saying illegal mining there has played “havoc” with the economy and has had “a chilling and crippling effect on ecology and environment”.

A bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam, however, permitted resumption of iron ore mining in category A and B mines in the three districts but only after fulfilment of the guidelines, including reclamation and rehabilitation, as recommended by the apex court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

Of the 166 mining leases where the court had banned operations on July 29 and August 26, 2011, activity in seven category B mines was suspended by the court as they fall on Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border.

“The operation of the seven leases placed in B category situated on or nearby Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh inter-state boundary will remain suspended until finalisation of the inter-state boundary dispute whereupon the question of commencement of operations in respect of the aforesaid seven leases will be examined afresh by the CEC,” according to the bench.

While directing closure of category C mines, the bench, also comprising, justices K S Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi, said “illegal mining, apart from playing havoc on the national economy had, in fact, cast an ominous cloud on the credibility of the system of governance by laws in force. It has had a chilling and crippling effect on ecology and environment.

“It is evident from the compilation submitted to the court by the CEC that several of the category C mines were operating without requisite clearances or in absence of mining lease…”

“There is no room for compassion; fervent pleas for clemency cannot have a persuasive value. As against individual interest of 49 category C leaseholders, public interest would require the court to lean in favour of demonstrating efficacy and effectiveness of the long arm of the law.

“We, therefore, order for the complete closure of the category C mines and for necessary follow-up action in terms of the recommendations of the CEC in this regard,” according to the court.

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