By Jayajit Dash
After taking serious note of illegal mining beyond leasehold area in Odisha, the Shah Commission of enquiry has urged the state government officials and Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to undertake joint field verification of such cases.
"The Shah panel has asked the officials of departments of revenue, forest & environment and mining to take up field visits of such mines jointly with IBM. The panel has also called for submission of a report by the end of this month”, a senior government official told Business Standard.
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 as well as the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) are members of the committee.
A senior official of mining department said, “In the Joda mining sector, there are cases of six lessees with boundary disputes. These cases cannot be termed as illegal mining until we verify the details”,
The Shah Commission of enquiry that concluded its Odisha visit on Sunday, stated that it had taken serious note of mining beyond leasehold area and would examine the matter.U V Singh, team leader of the panel said, a report on alleged illegal mining activities in Odisha would be submitted in 2-3 phases depending on the volume of work and it will be a complete report. 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 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.
The panel had also reiterated some of its previously raised queries. The panel had sought to know if the state government favoured a complete ban on iron ore exports to curb illegal mining and on areas like non-fulfillment of promises made to the iron ore based industries, CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities of miners at the site of mine leases and its periphery and restriction on lessees responsible for polluting local water sources.