Santosh Hegde: Illegal mining carried out through East Coast

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Santosh Hegde
Bangalore, Jun 9: Karnataka's Lokayukta Chief, Santosh N. Hegde has slammed the state government once again over their claims that illegal mining and iron ore export has been banned in the state.

On the occasion of the release of a documentary, “Please Bear With Us" he lambasted the states efforts to curb the vices and commented, “Despite the State Government's claims that export of iron ore has been banned in the State, illegal mining and export of iron ore is going on in Karnataka. If not through the West Coast, it is being carried out through the East Coast."

He divulged further details of his statements and said, “Earlier, exports were done from Mangalore port, Karwar, Bilikere and Goa. There are some restrictions now from these areas. But iron ore is going now through Hagari border, to Visakhapatnam, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh." He asserted further that the illegal practice of mining was very much prevalent in the state and spoke on government efforts, “Mining is of no use to the Government. The royalty that the Government earns through mining does not meet even 10 per cent of the expenses incurred on repair of the roads there."

With mine owners indulging in fleecing according to Hegde with mine owners paying Rs. 27 per tonne of 64 FE grade and Rs. 17 per tonne of lower grade iron ore, they in turn sold it for Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 per tonne. They also showed little regard for environmental concerns hampering life for both humans and wild life.

He added on the sorry state the state is heading and said, “Going by the way mining is being carried out in Bellary, it is apparent that iron ore will be available only for the next 25 to 30 years. The advent of new equipment now has helped the mine owners to extract three or four times more than what they were doing before. All these aspects will come out in my second report."

He also raised the issue of the open transportation of the iron ore that can prove harmful for humans and animals alike and said, “I have studied the problem in Bellary while I was preparing the report. People in Sandur have told me to give them cyanide instead of allowing them to die slowly. But the mine owners do not understand this as they do not stay there."

Suresh Misra, professor and chair of the Centre for Consumer Studies at Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi also spoke on the burning issue and said, “We have now realized that mining is a move towards destruction. If the State itself becomes a property dealer, it is a dangerous trend and it is unfortunate that this is what is happening in Karnataka."

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