Odisha: SC panel indicts govt for illegal mining

  • Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 19, 2014 02:11 IST

A Supreme Court-appointed panel has indicted the Odisha government and certain companies for illegal mining in the state during 2000-11 in violation of environmental laws and norms.

In its report, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) said nearly 2,131 lakh MT of iron and 24 lakh MT of manganese of notional value of Rs 17,576 crore had been extracted by mining companies in Odisha without environmental clearance and/or in excess of the environmental clearances.

The CEC recommended that 30% of the notional value of the iron and manganese produced by companies without/in excess of the environmental clearances should be recovered from them in three months.

According to the 179-page final CEC report submitted to the court on Friday, the violator companies include some PSUs and companies belonging to Tata and some other private companies.

The SC, which is hearing PILs filed by NGO Common Cause and others seeking a ban on illegal mining on Odisha and a CBI probe into the matter, is likely to take up the report after Diwali vacation.

The report stated that the illegal mining was done with the consent of state authorities. “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 court and also points towards lax governance,” it said.

The entire production without/in excess of the statutory approvals had been transported under the transit permits issued by state government officials and that too after payment of royalty at the applicable rates, the CEC noted.

The CEC had submitted a report on April 25, 2014 which said 102 lessees did not have all requisite statutory approvals and that their mining operations had been suspended by the state government; while 29 other mining lease agreements had lapsed.

The SC had on May 16, 2014 directed that the mining operations in 102 mining leases and 29 mining leases respectively shall remain suspended.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government on Saturday said it would abide by the SC’s direction. “Though the CEC has submitted its support, the apex court has not given any direction,” Odisha’s steel and mines minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick said.

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