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SC Refuses to Accept CEC Recommendation Lifting Mining Capacity in Karnataka

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Karnataka Mining Law Insider

Khushi Bajpai

Published on: August 28, 2022 at 18:55 IST

The Supreme Court declined to accept the Centrally Empowered Committee’s (CEC) suggestion to remove the ceiling limit imposed on production of iron ore in specific regions of the State of Karnataka on Friday (26.08.2022), noting that the situation justifies a cautious approach.

Although essentially accepting the CEC’s recommendation about ceiling limits, the Supreme Court noted that it could not accept the CEC’s most recent recommendation in its entirety.

The ceiling for iron ore production in the Bellary District was increased from 28 MMT to 35 MMT, and for the combined Chitra Durga and Tumkur Districts, it was increased from 7 MMT to 15 MMT by a bench made up of the Chief Justice, NV Ramana and Justices Hima Kohli and CT Ravikumar.

While raising the ceiling cap, it was noted that environmental considerations and economic development objectives have to be balanced in order to ensure substantial development.

The original petitioner’s worries about potential over excavation and its detrimental effects on intergenerational equity must be weighed against the worries of the other parties because the principles of substantiable development are also relevant.

The preservation of ecology and the environment must coexist with the spirit of economic development, and even today, efforts are being made to strike a delicate balance between the two objectives.

Based on the CEC report, the top court banned mining in the districts of Bellary, Chitra Durga, and Tumkur by orders dated 29.07.2011 and 26.08.2011. On April 13, 2012, a relaxation was approved, but the court set a cap on the total amount of iron ore output in Bellary at 25 million metric tonnes (MMT) and in Chitra Durga and Tumkur combined at 5 MMT.

Based on the CEC findings, the court decided in 2017 to raise the ceiling for Bellary from 25 MMT to 28 MMT and for the other two districts as a whole from 5 MMT to 7 MMT while taking applications for lifting the cap into consideration.