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Wednesday, Oct 13, 2004

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Mining area for KIOCL sought

By Our Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE, OCT. 12. The Kudremukh Mazdoor Sangh has urged the State Government to allot block numbers 13, 14, 15 and 17 in the iron ore mining area of Ramanadurga in Bellary district to the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd. (KIOCL).

As per the order of Supreme Court, KIOCL has to cease mining activities by the end of 2005, which will affect the future of nearly 2,200 employees of KIOCL and 10,000 indirectly employed through it.

In a press note here, Allampalli Venkatram, president of the Sangh, said that private parties had taken away a lion's share of the Ramanadurga mining block. Only one-fourteenth of this area in blocks 13 to 15 and 17 was in the reserved area under the control of the State Government. For reasons best known to the Government, this block was dereserved in 2003, making it free for private allotment, he said.

Mr. Venkatram said that the Government had dereserved mining areas in 25 locations in 2003, including in Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Bangalore, Kolar, Mandya, Mysore, Chitradurga an Bijapur districts. Dereserving such huge pieces of government land created serious doubts, he said and added the KIOCL was negotiating with the Centre for obtaining lease of land at Ramanadurga. It was at this stage that the State Government dereserved this block as well.

Mr. Venkatram said that the KIOCL was not a sick industry, but a 100 per cent export-oriented unit. He said that if some land was allotted to it, all the employees could be retained in service till the age of retirement. If this was not done, the KIOCL would be closed and the plant and machinery worth crores would be shifted to Orissa.

Pointing that the KIOCL was prepared to spend more than Rs. 500 crores as an additional investment in Karnataka, he said the company already had ISO 9001:2000, IS 140001, OSHAS 180001 certification. Noting that these certifications pertained to environment safety, processing safety and mining safety, he said such facilities were not available in any private unit and urged the Government to review its decision.

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