Mining dependents protest for free trade.

Miners and mining dependants from Ballari, Hospet, Chitradurga districts and surrounding areas in Karnataka staged a protest demanding to lift the ban on iron ore-mining in certain parts of the State.

Workmen, truckers and allied small-scale industries were also part of the protest and they under the banner of Karnataka Gani Avalambithara Vedike held a sit-in demonstration. They demanded the government to save their livelihood.

More than 6000 members of ‘Karnataka Gani Avalambithara Vedike’ (KGAV), including Iron ore Mining dependents from Bellary, Hospet, Chitradurga districts and surrounding mining belt, staged dharna at Freedom Park here urging the Karnataka Government to allow free trade and preference to local iron ore over imports. Alleging that their livelihood is under threat after the mining was banned in the State, lakhs of people who are dependent upon the iron ore mining industry such as workmen, truckers and allied small scale industries were worst affected as it resulted in large scale job losses and extreme cases of poverty.” Their livelihood became highly uncertain even after the Supreme Court permitted to start mining but, production cap, e-auction and lots of other restrictions lowered the mining capacity that led to stagnation in iron ore industry,” KGAV Spokesperson S Rajakumara said here on Tuesday.

According to media reports, they had claimed that the ban had led them to poverty and joblessness and that they were the most affected.

A spokesperson of the organization said that uncertainty loomed large over the lakhs of miners because of the discriminatory policies. This was prevalent only in Karnataka mining sector and nowhere else, he claimed, adding that due to restrictions on production, e-auction, and other activities, it had led to lowering the mining capacity and had caused stagnation in the iron-ore industry.

He further claimed that production and dispatch from the leases were never fixed and fluctuated in accordance with the purchasing pattern of the steel industry. Buyers of iron ore are allowed to buy freely from outside Karnataka whereas sellers are not allowed to sell freely resulting in a huge pile-up of inventory, he said.

They urged the government to ensure their survival by allowing free trade, giving preference to local iron ore over imports and ensuring regular business for truckers and lakhs of other mining dependents.

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