News Karnataka
Friday, December 09 2022

Karwar, Bilekeri ports want black gold out of their yards!

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Karwar: Large cache of iron pre confiscated by the office of the Lokayukta has been left at Bilekeri and Karwar ports. Though the Port authorities have been requesting the Forest Department to auction the stock and clear the yard, legal glitches are being encountered. Huge quantity of iron ore have been occupying port space and due to this both the ports have been facing massive losses.

It was in 2010 that illegally mined ore was confiscated by the Lokayukta and stocked here. After probe, the forest department was vested with the responsibility to guard the stock.

While 80,000 tonnes of ore is stocked at Karwar port, 20 lakh tonnes are piled at Bilekeri.

Large quantity of the ore is seen getting washed away during the monsoon, finally meeting the sea. In a bid to avert such an erosion, the forest and the ports department have been spending several lakhs every year and the costs of maintaining the ore is only shooting up.

Keeping the stock in its yard is not a good idea for both the ports because the cache has eaten away prime yard space. The stock belongs to about 40 mining companies and the court proceedings are on against them. Bilekeri port has stopped export activities, due to which the sole responsibility of the iron ore has fallen on shoulders of the forest department. About two years ago, the port department had written a letter to the forest department to vacate the ore from Bilekeri. Since cases were slammed against the iron ore companies with the CBI Court, the forest department had sought permission from the CBI Court to auction the ore. In this connection, the CBI court told the forest department to call for open auction and dispose the ore. However, the iron ore companies that owned the ore took objection to the same and brought a stay order from the High Court. Hence the stock has been left in two ports and the forest department, which is already reeling under manpower crunch has appointed personnel to guard the stock.

All in all the stock is going to stay here for some more years, till the cases going on at various places are settled. But, both the port and the forest department are suffering due to the ‘unwanted’ wealth!

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Srinivas Badkar

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