A Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court to probe the Odisha mining scam has held the state government responsible for alleged illegal mining from 2000 to 2011.
Submitting its report to the apex court Friday, the CEC said mining companies illegally produced more than 2131 lakh metric tonnes (mt) of iron ore and 24 mt of manganese with a notional value of Rs 17,576 crore during these eleven years.
The CEC said mining operations in Odisha had been taken up almost by all the lessees without environmental clearance.
“It is most disturbing to note that the entire production without or in excess of the statutory approvals has been transported under the transit permits (TPs) issued by the officers concerned of the state government after payment of royalty at applicable rates,” the CEC headed by PV Jayakrishnan said in its 178-page report.
The report added that the state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) was a major violator and headed the pack whioh included government of India undertakings and companies belonging to reputed corporate groups.
“The senior officers of the state government from the chief secretary downwards cannot escape responsibility for such wholesale and brazen violation of the acts, rules and guidelines and the directions of this Hon’ble Court and also points towards lax governance,” the CEC said.
This is the second indictment of the Naveen Patnaik government, with Justice MB Shah commission that probed the multi-crore mining scam having recommended an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in February.
After the opposition first raised it in the Odisha assembly in 2009, the Patnaik government ordered a vigilance probe. But opposition parties and social activists have been demanding a CBI inquiry saying the state vigilance department is remote-controlled by the government.