New Delhi:  Putting the Karnataka government on sticky wicket, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Friday said large-scale illegal mining is going on in the state particularly in Bellary district in collusion with officials and public representatives.

Headed by Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia, the special forest bench issued notice to the state government and sought its response on various findings in the CEC's interim report including the export of 304.91 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore without valid permit between 2003 to 2009-10.
The Supreme Court in February 2011 directed the CEC to conduct a probe over allegations of illegal mining in the state and submit a report within six weeks.

The court's direction had come after a petition filed by an NGO had submitted that as per Karnataka Lokayukta report, mining activities were being carried not only illegally but also in the areas categorised as forest land.

Earlier, the bench had directed the CEC to probe the Andhra Pradesh side of the Bellary region.

NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya had alleged that the respective state governments in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh had failed to stop the rampant illegal mining of iron ore, which adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor.

It had alleged that illegal mining had resulted in "an encroachment of 1,114.8 hectares of forest land in Karnataka".

It had said, "The Union of India through both the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Ministry of Mines has not exercised enough checks and balances to curtail illegal mining in the two states."

The NGO had submitted that the Lokayukta report had highlighted that forest area to the extent over 2,000 sq kms was available for mining by private entities despite specific
objections raised by the Forest Department.