Acknowledging "large scale" illegal mining in various states, the government today said this could lead to a nexus between criminal and anti-national elements, especially in naxal-affected areas.
Making a statement on illegal mining in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Mines B K Handique said a Commission of Inquiry has been set up to look into the extent of illegal mining.
The Commission, which would present its report within 18 months, would identify persons or firms responsible and ascertain if there had been any tampering of official records relating to land and boundaries.
"Due to a combination of reasons in the recent years, the incidence of illegal mining has grown considerably. This problem is acquiring organised dimensions and may lead to a nexus with criminal and anti-national elements in some of the states including those affected by Left Wing Extremism," he said.
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 rise in demand for iron ore, he said mining activity has increased manifold, particularly in the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa.
With a view to curbing this menace, the enquiry panel would inquire into and determine the nature and extent of illegal mining and trade and transportation of iron and manganese ores.
It would also identify the persons 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.
"I am hopeful the Commission's recommendations would help the government to take necessary steps to prevent illegal mining," Handique said.