The state mining department has finally set a four- day deadline to cancel the mining license of the firm charged with money links with Maoists and heavy tax evasion.
Hindustan Times had highlighted inaction against the firm in its report carried on July 31, headlined 'A decade later, no action on firm with Maoist links'. The report exposed how the East Singhbhum-based mining firm, Jaiswal Mineral Products Ltd, leased to Vishnu Chowdhary, was conducting business despite chief minister Hemant Soren's order to cancel its license on February 26.
The firm was engaged in mining Pyroxenite, an igneous rock which is used in the blast furnace during steel manufacturing for past 11 years despite objections. The firm was granted mining lease in 2001 and was one of the five suppliers to Tata Steel.
Deputy secretary of state mining department, Anand Mohan Thakur said, "We are going to cancel the license to the miner in the next four days. It is a standing order of the department."
As per the norms, the accused was given 60 days' time to plead his case. But he failed to respond on time. Thakur said the department had turned down the firm owner's plea for extra time for reply after the deadline expired on July 26.
The scam was first exposed as a case of illegal mining on encroached forest land by the East Singhbhum deputy commissioner's (DC) office in 2003. In the same year a special branch report revealed that Chowdhary was hand-in-glove with Maoists, providing them financial support.
Thakur blamed the unstable governments in Jharkhand for the 11-year delay in shutting down Chowdhary's mine. "Only chief ministers -who have held portfolios of mining ministers-have the power to cancel leases. Every time the government fell, the order got delayed," he said.
"The department in all these years has seen review of the subject by the chief minister's office (CMO) thrice. Finally, this year the CMO has given its verdict," he said.
Jharkhand, since its formation in 2000, has seen nine chief ministers and three president rules.
HT has in its possession documents revealed that Chowdhary not only had close links with Maoist rebels but also supplied the mineral on fake challans to Tata steel.