The Supreme Court today raised the annual iron ore production limit for Ballari, Chitradurga, and Tumakuru districts in Karnataka.

For Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts the annual iron ore production limit was raised from 7 MMT to 15 MMT while for Ballari, the apex court raised the limit from 28 MMT to 35 MMT a year.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana passed the order on pleas seeking lifting of ceiling limits on the excavation of iron ores on the lines of other states.

The Apex Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had also favoured the lifting of the ceiling limit on iron ore mining in three districts.

However, the Court decided to raise the limit instead of lifting the cap.

Earlier on May 20, the Court had permitted mining firms to sell outside the state and export already excavated iron ore from mines in the districts of Ballari, Chitradurga, and Tumakuru in Karnataka without having to resort to the process of e-auction.

The Bench had taken note of the stand of the Central government and lifted the curb on the export of iron ore and asked the firms to observe the conditions imposed by the authorities.

Keeping in mind all the ...factors, we are inclined to favourably consider the prayer made by the applicants and grant them permission to sell the already excavated iron ore stock-pile at various mines and stockyards located in the Districts of Bellary, Tumkur, and Chitradurga in the State of Karnataka, without having to resort to the process of e-auction, the Bench had said.

Iron ore exports from Karnataka were banned in 2012 by the Apex Court to prevent environmental degradation and to ensure that the mineral resources of the state are preserved for future generations as part of the concept of intergenerational equity.

The order was passed on pleas of mining firms seeking the lifting of curbs on the sale and export of iron ore imposed earlier on account of rampant violations.

Earlier, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice N. V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli had granted permission for the sale of already excavated Iron Ore in the Districts of Bellary, Tumkur, and Chitradurga, lifting the blanket ban imposed over a decade ago. The said ban was imposed in view of the rampant illegal mining and its adverse effect on the ecology in these Districts.

With PTI inputs