Not only illegal mining but transportation of iron ore and manganese too is draining the State’s exchequer.
Consider this. The State Public Works Department (PWD) has incurred a whopping loss of Rs 1,700 crore in the form of damages to its road network due to transportation of iron ore and manganese during 2005-06. The annual royalty collected by the Mines and Geology department from the owners of mines is a meagre Rs 84 crore.
This is the information furnished by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who also holds Mining portfolio, to Mr K Jayaprakash Hegde (Ind) in the Legislative Assembly. Mr Hegde had also sought to know what steps the government has taken in this regard.
While the PWD south division has incurred a loss of Rs 830 crore, the cost to the north division has been put at Rs 879 crore in 2005-06 due to transportation of iron ore through lorries and trucks on roads.
The worst hit are roads in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts ”” home for majority of iron ore and manganese mines in the State ”” from where ore-laden lorries move towards Mangalore, Karwar and the neighbouring Goa State.
The Chief Minister, in his written reply, has further stated that steps have been initiated to check illegal ore transportation in the form of overloading, after receiving complaints about the damage to the road network recently.
He has claimed that a task force has been set up both at the State and the district levels to keep an eye on illegal transportation. Besides, directions have been issued to all mine owners to install weighing machines at their respective mines, on failing which mining licenses would be cancelled.
The government has set up special check-posts in these three districts and officials have been empowered to take stringent action against those violating rules.