By Jayajit Dash
After the M B Shah Commission of enquiry took serious note of mining beyond leasehold area, a team of officials of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and Odisha forest department have jointly inspected five mines in iron ore rich Joda sector in Keonjhar district.
The team conducted field verification of leases of five mine owners- Sarada Mines, S N Mohanty, state run Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Rungta Mines and Indrani Patnaik in the Joda circle.
“The team of officials from IBM and state forest department conducted field verification of these five mines recently. They will be submitting a report to the Shah Commission, detailing their observations. While the Shah commission had pointed out mining activity taking place outside lease area, we are of the view that these are only boundary disputes between lessees,” said a mining department official. The state government has already constituted a committee headed by deputy director of mines to look into cases of mining outside lease area. Officials of revenue, forest and mining departments as well as the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) are members of the committee.
The Shah panel which was on a visit to the state during October 31-November 11, had taken serious note of mining beyond lease area.
U V Singh, team leader of the panel had said a report on alleged illegal mining activities in Odisha would be submitted in 2-3 phases depending on the volume of work. The panel verified the records of around 150 iron ore mining leases during its recent visit to the state.
Of late, the Shah Commission has also sought a detailed response from the government on the impact of suspension of scores of mine leases on the state's economy.
Following the mines department's clampdown to curb irregularities in mining activities, only 129 of a total of 600 mining leases in the state are currently operational. While 240 mines have been suspended on account of lack of statutory clearances, 140 others have been temporarily discontinued.