Miners urge government to stall cancellation of leases

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Bellary: Owners of the 52 category ‘C’ iron ore mining leases that are scheduled to be cancelled by the end of June on the orders of the Supreme Court,  have  requested information minister, Santosh S. Lad, one of the affected mining barons himself, to put off the cancellation process till their review petition is disposed off in the apex court.

Although judgments have seldom been altered on the basis of  a review petition, the miners are preparing to file one before the green bench of the apex court when it begins hearing from July 3 onwards after the summer vacations.

They are seeking an upgradation of their mining leases from  Category ‘C’ to  ‘B’ so that they can continue  mining after satisfying the stipulated penalty clauses. According to industry insiders the category ‘C’ miners, who include a few Congress legislators and senior leaders, have already held informal talks with Mr Santosh Lad asking him to arrange a meeting with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to allow them to present their case to him as well.

“Our legal options have  not been exhausted, so its important that the state government does not  hurry on this issue,”  said one mining baron. Besides Mr Santosh Lad other Category ‘C’ miners  include Bellary Congress MLA,  Anil Lad who owns  V.S. Lad and Sons and former minister and BJP MLA, B.S. Anand Singh. Also facing cancellation of their mining leases are the Goa-based Salgoacar Group, H.G. Ranganagouda Mines, Bharat Mines and Minerals, Lakshminarayan Mining and one lease of the state-owned M/s Mysore Minerals Ltd.

On a visit to his hometown, Sandur, on Thursday, Mr Santosh Lad had told reporters that his company  planned to file a review petition and hoped to get a favourable order from the apex court.
Meanwhile,  CEC  chairman  P V Jayakrishnan, member secretary , M K Jiwrajka, and member, Mahendra Vyas  held a meeting with Chief Secretary  S.V. Ranganath, members of the Monitoring Committee  and higher officials of Mines and Forest department in Bengaluru on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Mr Ranganath was  directed to constitute a high-level committee involving Mines and Geology, Forest and Law Department officials to draft procedural rules for cancellation of the mining leases and pave the way for their  global auctioning, according to sources.

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