A special forest bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia ordered forming of the joint team of representatives of the Forest Department and the Mines and Geology Department of state government besides those of Karnataka Lokayukta and the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC).
The team would conduct a survey and demarcation of the leased mines in the presence of representatives of the mining firms and if any encroachment was found, the mining in the entire leased area would stop, the bench said.
Admitting the two reports filed by the CEC, the apex court directed the joint team to visit the site of all the 99 mines to carry out demarcation.
"If that team comes to the conclusion that there has been illegal mining in the area outside the demarcated leased boundary, lessee (miners) shall stop mining not only in its encroached area but in the entire lease area," the bench said.
The apex court also clarified that the encroached area would also include pits, dumps and roads constructed by the mining firms in the area.
The bench said the 68 mines, which were identified by the Lokayukta of the state for encroachment of their mining leases into the reserve forest needs to be verified.
The apex court's statement came after Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, appearing for PSU firm NMDC, said the report was not correct. He said that after the report a survey was conducted again and its PSU was found to be correct.