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The Karnataka government has initiated several measures to curb illegal movement and the possibility of pilferage of iron ore in the state. The move comes after the direction of the Supreme Court and the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in the recent past.
In an affidavit submitted to the apex court last week, chief secretary SV Ranganath said the mines and geology department had introduced the e-permit system to curb illegal transport of iron ore.
“The introduction of e-auction has resulted in the discovery of real market prices of the minerals and also contributed to an increase in royalty. Modern check posts have been set up and mineral carrying trucks have to compulsorily pass through at least one of these check posts,” he said.
The Monitoring Committee has sold 26.58 mmt iron ore through auctions till July 31, 2012, and realised Rs 6,416 crore. In addition to the sale price, about Rs 1,496 crore has been recovered and paid to the government towards royalty (Rs 606.24 crore), forest development tax (Rs 594 crore), value added tax (Rs 271 crore) and Central Sales Tax (Rs 25 crore).
The chief secretary filed the affidavit on behalf of the state in response to various allegations made in the representation by the petitioner before the CEC in a writ petition filed by the Samaj Parivartan Samudaya of Dharwad.
The mines and geology department has introduced Special Security Permit Paper on which e-permits are printed. The special permit paper has a number of security features — embedded hologram, see through ink, bar code, micro-lining among others, which makes it nearly impossible to fake.
“The very fact not even a single major incident of theft of iron ore has been reported in the last one year goes to prove that the government is serious about curbing illegal mining activities,” Ranganath said in his affidavit.
He said, apart from taking structural and administrative reforms, the state government had also taken initiative to carry statutory reforms.
The state government had enacted ‘The Prevention (of illegal mining, transportation and storage) Rules 2011’ in order to take effective steps to eliminate the menace of illegal mining.
The Supreme Court order banning mining operations in the districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur had been implemented in letter and spirit. At the same time, the state government has facilitated for a hassle-free transportation of minerals bought in the e-auction, being carried out as per the orders of the Apex Court, the affidavit stated.
The state had already agreed to the recommendations of the CEC and committed to take all ameliorative measures as suggested by CEC, it said. They include setting up of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) under chief secretary’s chairmanship to form ameliorative measures and use funds from cancellation, penalty and 20 per cent of e-auction prices for creating infrastructure, socio-economic development of the area, conservation of forests, common facilities like widening of roads, railway sidings and alternate roads among others.
The CEC has also proposed 10 per cent of the sale value realised in e-auction for the freshly produced iron ore be used by SPV for the above purposes.