Shah panel indicts Odisha govt, Centre in illegal iron ore mining

The Shah Commission has severely indicted both the Centre and the Odisha government on illegal mining of iron and manganese ores in its 5-volume report and has asked the state government to recover over Rs 59,203 crore from the miners.

‘All modes of illegal mining’ are being carried out in the state and ‘it appears that law has been made helpless because of its systematic non-implementation’, the Commission has said.

It has also recommended using the recovered amount for the development of two districts, Keonjhar and Sundergarh, ‘which are badly affected by illegal excess mining’. It also found large scale violation of environment and forest laws, rules and notifications.

Out of 192 mining leases of iron and manganese ores in the state, ‘130 lessees are/were noted to be doing production without lawful authority’ in violation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notifications 1994 and 2006.

Moreover, 94 mines were found to be operating without environment clearance (EC), while 96 obtained delayed ECs, the Commission said. ‘Overall, 109 mining leases are/were working under deemed extension and doing production in violation of EIA, 1994 and 2006.’

According to the Commission, iron ore worth over Rs 45,453 crore and manganese ore worth over Rs 3,089 crore has been extracted ‘illegally and without lawful authority’ by the miners in Odisha in violation of EC conditions alone.

It has also traced freight evasion cases by iron ore exporters, who move the mineral under domestic movement category by showing false excise certificates and recommended that the Railways should ask CBI to investigate the cases.

For movement of iron ore, the Railways has two tariff structures -- domestic (having lower tariffs) and other than domestic (having higher tariffs). By 2010-11, charges for domestic movement of iron ore was one-fifth of that of other than domestic.

According to the Commission, the Railways has informed that notices have been sent to 14 companies for recovery of Rs 1,874 crore on account of freight evasion.

All mining leases should be granted via auction route only, including those mines where leases are not renewed and are operating under deemed extension route or which are coming for first, second or third renewal, the Commission said.

Noting that the Odisha government has sent 146 show cause notices to mining lease holders for excessive production between 2000-01 and 2009-10, the Commission said, ‘it is apparent that there must be unlawful mining... Value of the unlawful extraction of iron and manganese ores comes to Rs 59203,33,13,342 (i.e about Rs 59,203 crore).
Next Story
Share it