Labourers work inside a factory on the outskirts of Agartala, March 28, 2007.
Labourers work inside a factory on the outskirts of Agartala, March 28, 2007.Reuters

Supreme Court lifted Monday the ban imposed on the 18 iron ore mines in three districts of Karnataka, Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga.

Following the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), the apex court has eased the ban on iron ore mines after it had suspended mining activities for more than a year.

The Supreme Court-appointed CEC was constituted to look into the irregularities in mining operations across Bellary and also in and around the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border.

The top court has allowed the iron ore mines to resume production with the condition that no environmental restrictions are violated.

Karnataka is the second largest supplier of iron ore in the country. The mines in the state produce about 200 million tons of iron ore annually, half of which was earlier exported. However, after the apex court's ban on illegal mining, the production levels and exports have been scaled down drastically.

After a thorough examination of the mining operations, the CEC recommended the apex court to clamp a ban on the mining activities in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts due to their adverse impact on the delicate ecosystem.

Last year, taking into account the CEC input, the Supreme Court ordered an immediate suspension of mining operations, saying that overmining in the forest area and other places have raised serious environmental concerns.