Amid ongoing probe by the M B Shah commission of enquiry into illegal mining in Odisha, the Ministry of coal has urged the state government to take appropriate action to curb illegal coal mining.
"The observations and recommendations regarding farming of specific rules by the state to prevent/control of illegal mining and also formation of the task force with regular reporting system would be relevant and applicable for the coal sector also. I am directed to request you to take appropriate action as recommended by the commission of enquiry to control/curb illegal coal mining as also any other related action in the coal sector. The Ministry of coal may be kept apprised on the same”, A K Bhalla, joint secretary (coal) wrote to Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik.
The Shah probe panel during its recent visit to Odisha from February 27-March 4 had heard out views of the mine lessees as well as the state government.
It may be noted that the state government is yet to furnish its compliance to the Coal ministry with respect to illegal coal mining.
Though the Coal ministry had written to the state chief secretary on the matter in December, 2011 and October 2012, the state government is yet to submit the report.The Parliamentary Standing committee had observed that the natural resources of the country are being plundered at the cost of national economy and destruction of environment.
The panel was of the opinion that officials responsible to curb illegal mining are either indifferent or too scared to stop the menace.
“Officers of personnel and legal departments of coal companies should make all endeavours to ensure that the criminal trials pending for legal and unauthorized coal mining are ended with conviction. Unfortunately, the coal companies could not produce any facts and data, establishing the appropriate steps taken in this regard. The committee deprecates such a lackadaisical attitude of coal companies. It is unfortunate that in cases of such huge illegal coal mining, there is not a single conviction made by appropriate court by reason of non-persuasion of such case either by the appropriate government or by the coal companies”, the committee stated in its report.
Moreover, there is utter lack of coordination between the Central and concerned state governments and among various coal companies.
While the Centre has exclusive powers to make laws with respect to regulation of mines and major mineral development, the state governments are mainly responsible for implementing such laws.
The committee recommended that the coal producing states should frame rules and set up an inter-state joint intelligence and action force to combat the problem of illegal mining.
It had called for better monitoring, policing and creating job opportunities for the poor in areas where the problem of illegal mining is prevalent. The panel also observed that except for Jharkhand, no major study has been undertaken by any coal producing state or coal companies to ascertain the extent of loss of money due to illegal coal mining.