In what comes as a proof of the spurt in illegal mining across the country, 20,702 such cases were detected in the first three months of the current year as compared to the 36,677 cases detected in 2006.
At a time when the illegal mining issue is rocking several state governments and legislatives (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand) the severity of the problem is indicated by the data collected by the Ministry of Mines.
The number of illegal mining cases detected from 17 states has shot up to 1,82,442 since 2006 (with AP topping the chart), the Ministry submitted before Parliament on Wednesday.
Pointing to the hand-in-glove approach of the state governments (under whose jurisdiction mining sector falls), only 4,179 FIRs and 23,289 court cases have been filed against the detected cases in the last four years.
A meagre Rs 346 crore was collected as fine.
"Compared to the royalty loss the states are suffering, the fine means nothing. In states like Orissa, Karnataka where the political and business spectrum is involved in the activity, most of the cases go unnoticed..." an official in the ministry told HT.
"Given the power miners (read Reddy Brothers) wield we suspect how many of the cases detected have made to the list. The issue is not limited to Bellary," one official said.
Though a Central empowered-cum-coordination panel is monitoring the issue, the Ministry is ignorant of revenue losses.
"States are the owners of mineral resources who also collect royalty by leasing the mines. We do not maintain the figures," B K Handique, Minister for Mines said.
But the loss can run into thousands of crores.
For example, a 10% royalty has to be paid for every tonne of iron extracted from mines.