As the Supreme Court churned out more earthshattering decisions for the infra industries in a week than it did in a long while, the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) returned with its final report and recommendations to allow 45 mining licences in Karnataka to resume and 49 licences to be cancelled. As this issue goes to press, the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court will hear the report, and make a decision on restarting mining in the three districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur.
The court had earlier asked the state to take steps to clean up the environmental, social and developmental damage that the mining mafia had perpetrated over half a decade. An area of 2,800 acres of forest land in Karnataka was ruined by illegal mining according to the Karnataka Lokayukta report. The report has suggested that mining should not be allowed in the eco-sensitive Western Ghats, which are also mineral-rich, while an earlier report by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) had hinted at allowing mining in the Ghats.
The whiff we sense is the anticipatory sigh of relief in the industriesâ€”particularly steel and logistics. The Supreme Court and the executive mechanisms would do well to expedite the restart of mining.