The State Vigilance department has initiated cases against four mine owners in connection with illegal mining.
The miners against whom cases have been lodged include M L Rungta (Silijora-Kalamati iron ore & manganse mines), Rungta Mines Ltd (Jajang iron ore & manganese mines), Indrani Patnaik (Unchabali iron ore & manganese mines) and Sirajuddin & Company (iron ore mines).
All these mine owners have their leases under Joda circle in Keonjhar district, minister for steel & mines Rajani Kant Singh informed the state assembly in a written reply.
Allegations over illegal mining, chiefly of iron ore and manganese, have snowballed into a major issue in the state with both the Supreme Court appointed M B Shah Commission of enquiry and the Central empowered committee, also appointed by the apex court investigating into statutory violation by lessees.
During its last visit to Odisha from October 31-November 11, the Shah Commission had raised serious concern on mining beyond leasehold area. The commission is expected to submit its report on illegal mining in Odisha soon.
Following the mines department's clampdown against 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.
Recently, a team of officials of CEC had also held talks with top officials of state government. The CEC team urged the officials to expedite the process of renewal of mine lease applications.
The CEC in its report in April 2010, had pointed out the misuse of deemed extension’ clause under Rules 24-A (6) of Mineral Concession Rules (MCR)-1960.
The Odisha High Court on Wednesday has also issued notices to the state and Central government on a public interest litigation seeking repeal of the Rule 24-A (6) of MCR dealing with deemed extension facility. The court has asked the government not to allow any miner operate under this provision without leave of the court.