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THE Supreme Court has extended the stay on mining activities by the Reddy Brothers in Andhra Pradesh. A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishanan and Justice Deepak Verma also directed the Survey of India (SoI) to probe allegations of encroachment in two mines owned by the Reddys and submit a report by April 22.

Earlier, an SoI panel had cleared s the Reddys’ 68.5-hectare iron ore mine, saying there was no major encroachment. It said that of the 68.5 hectares, only 66 hectares are supposed to be used for mining. The remaining 2.5 hectares are for roads, but all 68.5 hectares are being used for mining.

In Malappanagudi village on the Karnataka-Andhra border, lands of two mines have overlapped leading to a vicious dispute.

Tumti Iron Ore is owned by Tapal Ganesh, a third-generation miner who is fighting a battle against Obalapuram Mining, owned by Janardhana and Karunakara Reddy.

Ganesh’s mine lies on the Karnataka side of the border while the Reddy brothers’ mine is on the Andhra side — both adjoining.

In November, 2009, Andhra chief minister K Rosaiah suspended all mining leases that the Reddy brothers held in his state. The Reddys challenged this in the high court successfully. The Andhra government then challenged this decision in the Supreme Court.

Attorney-general Goolam E Vahanvati on behalf of state government had told the apex court that Karnataka’s Reddy brothers illegally had mined around 1.95 lakh tonnes of minerals by encroaching forest lands. The state government had issued an order prohibiting mining after an apex court-appointed CEC had recommended stoppage of mining by the company in the area. The CEC was constituted by the Supreme Court to inquire into the matter based on a writ petition filed by Tapal Ganesh of Bellary against the OMC over alleged illegal mining activity in violation of the Forest Conservation Act.

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