SC extends its order prohibiting mining by OMC in AP
January 4, 2010
The Supreme Court on Monday extended its interim order banning mining and transportation of iron ore by Obulapuram Mining Co Pvt Ltd (OMC), owned by the Reddy brothers, in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, reports PTI.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice BS Chauhan decided to continue with its 17 December 2009 order after both the Andhra Pradesh Government and OMC preferred that the matter be heard by the Supreme Court instead of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The Supreme Court had stayed the High Court order allowing the mining and transportation of iron ore by OMC.
Attorney general GE Vahanvati appearing for the Andhra Pradesh Government assailed the High Court order which allowed the mining activities despite the apex court—appointed by the central empowered committee (CEC)—and the government appointed three-member committee pointing out irregularities in the mining operation which was carried out by encroaching on the forest area.
He said the committee criticised Karnataka minister G Janardhana Reddy and his brother for the illegal mining done by them in the Bellary reserve forest.
Mr Vahanvati said that the CEC report alleged that OMC had extended the area of mining operations by removing the pillars which formed the boundary of the area for which the lease was granted.
Further, he submitted that the company had not allowed the carrying out of the survey in the area.
The attorney general argued that the matter was of serious concern as there was "complete breakdown" of law and order and around 1,95,000 tonnes of minerals were being mined "illegally" from the encroached area.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the public interest litigation (PIL) petitioner, made submissions on similar lines and alleged that the Reddy brothers have taken the whole area as their fiefdom.
OMC countered the allegations through senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi who alleged that the private matter has been turned into a political battle. He said that even the issue of survey, which had been raised, was not the order of the apex court.
Mr Rohatgi also argued that there was no order for the CEC to give a report about the mine in question and the same was prepared without giving any notice to the party. He accused the Telugu Desam Party of giving the private matter the colour of a political battle.
Pointing out that the company was having lease for three mines and the report was only related to one of them, he requested the apex court to allow the company to carry out mining activities in the rest of the two.
The Bench observed that the main allegation against the company was that it has exceeded the boundary line. It said it would be for the High Court to hear the parties to pass an appropriate order on the merits of the case at the earliest. However, the parties urged the apex court to hear the matter. — Yogesh Sapkale