New Delhi: The Supreme Court today ordered Karnataka Government to commence “forthwith” the auctioning of 15 ‘C’ category iron ore mines in which end-user firms dealing in steel, sponge iron or pelletisation only, would be able to take part.
Outlining the modalities for the auction, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R K Agrawal and N V Ramana said, “the sale proceeds of the auctioning, for the present, will be deposited with Consolidated Fund and this will be subject to further orders of this court.”
The court also asked the authorities to conclude the auctioning process within “32 weeks from today”. Dealing with other aspects, it also said that “prospective end user” firms cannot be allowed to take part in the auction process.
Besides fixing the boundaries of the mines to be auctioned, the successful bidders will have to get all approvals like environment clearances from the authorities. Concerned authorities would help successful firms in getting requisite clearances, it said, adding that “consortium of end users will not be able to take part in the auctioning”.
The bench said that “the public sector undertakings end users and existing end user firms” could take part in the bidding process of 15 iron ore mines spread over in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts of Karnataka. Earlier, the apex court had pulled up the state government over its “laxity” in ascertaining the iron ore reserves in the state and going ahead with auctioning of ‘C’ category mines.
The court was also informed that the state government has identified 15 out of cancelled 51 ‘C’ category mines for auction. The state government in compliance to the order of the apex court had in September, 2013 cancelled 51 ‘C’ category mining leases. The Central Empowered Committee had categorised 51 leases into ‘C’ category in view of gross illegalities.