The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Karnataka government to take a clear stand on the plea by miners seeking permission to export iron ore extracted in mines of Chitradurga, Tumakuru, and Ballari.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana that there was no need to allow exports, as the Steel Ministry said iron ore was not surplus, and cited the 2013 judgment, former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde’s report, as well as the Parliamentary panel findings.
He submitted that only finished steel should be exported, as this is capable of generating employment opportunities.
Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, representing the Centre, submitted that under the extant policy of the government, there is no bar on export of iron ore.
Nataraj also submitted that the issue of deficit in production of iron ore can’t be raised in case of Karnataka mines only.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing mine lease holders, contended that relief prayed in the PIL by the NGO has already been achieved and the Karnataka mining firms can’t be punished endlessly. He insisted that the environmental damage has already been recouped.
The bench, also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, was informed that a Cabinet meeting has been scheduled to decide on the export of iron ore issue.
The top court told Karnataka’s Additional Advocate General Nikhil Goel to inform it of the state’s stand within a day. After hearing detailed arguments, the top court reserved the order on the plea by the miners.
Earlier, the Mines and Steel Ministries expressed support for the demand for lifting the ban on export of minerals from Karnataka’s three districts, while the steel manufacturers body have opposed it.