Orissa's vigilance department on Wednesday arrested at least eight people, including mining officials and a mine owner, for their involvement in illegal mining in the state, an official said.
"We have arrested eight people for their involvement in illegal mining," Vigilance Department Director Anup Kumar Patnaik told IANS.
The vigilance department on Tuesday filed cases against nine people after a probe found evidence of illegal mining in Keonjhar district, some 235 km from here, with the complicity of several government officials.
"We did not arrest one person because he has obtained anticipatory bail from the court," Patnaik said.
Those arrested are two joint directors, a former director, a deputy director, a mining officer, a section officer of the state mining department, a forest range officer and a mine owner.
The vigilance department was last month asked by the State Government to investigate illegal mining after opposition parties alleged that it was going on in the mineral rich district in an area of over 36 hectares.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader K.V. Singhdeo had moved an adjournment motion in the assembly July 10, alleging that a private company had been mining manganese in the region.
Although Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty described the allegation as baseless, the government a day later ordered the probe, after Singhdeo produced documentary evidences of the illegal mining.
Patnaik told IANS that a team of 20 to 25 officers, conducting the inquiry, had examined papers, gone to the offices of mining and forest departments and inspected the spots.
"We found evidence of illegal mining. The area where the mining was going on was not leased out to anybody. The local officials of the forest and mining department knew that the illegal mining was going on but they did not take any steps to stop it," Patnaik said.