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The SC has stayed all further mining activities by the Obulapuram Mining Corp owned by the Karnataka ministers-cum-mining magnates—the Reddy brothers, in Andhra Pradesh
In a setback to the Reddy brothers, the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday stayed all further mining activities by the Obulapuram Mining Corporation (OMC) owned by the Karnataka ministers-cum-mining magnates in Andhra Pradesh, reports PTI.
A bench of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma appointed an expert committee headed by the Survey of India to review the mining areas and ascertain allegations of large-scale encroachment of reserve forest areas by the powerful mining lobby.
The apex court granted two weeks to the committee to file its report and said no further mining activities would be permitted at the site until further orders.
The SC also issued notices to the Reddy brothers, including G Janardhan Reddy and his brother Karunakara Reddy, on the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the 26th February state High Court order quashing the cancellation orders passed by the state.
Attorney General GE Vahanvati submitted that the High Court ignored the findings of the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and the high-level inquiry committee of the state government.
Both the Committees, after conducting independent inquiries, had arrived at concurrent conclusions that the Reddy brothers have encroached into vast areas of reserve forest land in the state.
The apex court said that the committee headed by the Survey of India would also include members drawn from the state department of forests, mines and revenue.
The High Court had decided the matter as the case was sent back to it by the apex court on 14th January with a direction to decide on it within a month after both OMC and the Andhra Pradesh government consented to it.
The apex court was of the view that the High Court, which had earlier given a conditional order for carrying on mining by OMC, would be in the best position to decide the vexed issues of boundary dispute involved in the matter and allowed all parties to make their case before the High Court.
The CEC had criticised Janardhana Reddy and his brothers for "illegal" mining by them in the Bellary reserve forest.
The Andhra Pradesh government had alleged that the OMC extended the area of mining by removing the pillars which formed the boundary of the area for which the lease was granted. The state government had issued an order prohibiting mining after CEC had recommended stoppage of mining by the company in the area.
The CEC was constituted by the SC to inquire into the matter based on a writ petition filed by Tapal Ganesh of Bellary against OMC over alleged illegal mining in violation of the Forest Conservation Act.