Admitting to incidents of large scale illegal mining in several states, UPA government on Tuesday set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the extent of the problem.
Illegal mining activities can lead to a nexus between criminal and anti-national elements, especially in areas affected by Left Wing extremism, Minister of State for Mines B.K. Handique said in Lok Sabha.
The Commission will present its report within 18 months. It will identify people or companies concerned, determine the extent to which the management, regulatory and monitoring systems have failed and identify persons responsible for tampering of official records.
The Commission may take assistance of any central or state investigative agency or any other authority as it may deem necessary.
Several reports clearly point to the fact that “mining, raising, transportation and export
of iron ore and manganese ore illegally or without lawful authority in various states are taking place on a large scale,” Handique said.
Due to a combination of reasons in recent years, incidents of illegal mining have grown considerably in states including Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa.
With a view to curb this menace, the enquiry panel will inquire into and determine the nature and extent of illegal mining, trade and transportation of iron and manganese ores.
Later, speaking during the debate, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda dubbed the proposed Commission of Inquiry as an “eyewash” and demanded setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the matter.
Opening the debate, CPM leader Basudev Acharya demanded the nationalisation of the illegal mines and said the issues also needed to be inquired into by the Central Bureau of Investigation.