Taking serious note of Hindustan Times' reports on illegal mining of bauxite ore in Ratnagiri in the ecologically fragile Konkan region, the state government on Tuesday said it would take swift action in the matter and asked the district collector for an explanation.
This paper had, on Monday and Tuesday, reported how Mumbai-based firm Ashapura Minechem Limited has mined 10 times more bauxite ore than it was allowed to at a 171-hectare site in Sakhari Velas village and has continue to mine, illegally, even after its licence expired in November 2009. The firm has also paid the state less royalty than it was supposed to.
"Such illegal mining of bauxite cannot be allowed to continue," state environment minister Sanjay Deotale told HT on Tuesday.
"I am seeking a report from the collector about why the mining continues unabated, despite consent expiring in November 2009."
Deotale said the state would get tough with the company for the loss of royalty to the state.
"Since they were allowed to mine only 4,000 tonnes [a month], we will look into whether they paid the state the royalty that was due on the excess bauxite ore they mined."
HT has documents that show that Ashapura Minechem had paid the state only Rs 1.74 crore as royalty, though it should have paid at least Rs 8 crore, according to the local district mining officer's estimates.