Bureaucrats directly involved in Odisha mining scam: Justice Shah
Former Supreme Court judge MB Shah on Monday said the alleged mining scam in Odisha was not possible without the connivance of bureaucrats.india Updated: Dec 13, 2011 16:50 IST
Former Supreme Court judge MB Shah on Monday said the alleged mining scam in Odisha was not possible without the connivance of bureaucrats.
“Bureaucrats are directly involved,” he said after a public hearing in the state capital on illegal mining.
Justice Shah heads the eight-member Shah Commission, a judicial inquiry panel appointed by the Centre to probe illegal mining in several states including Odisha.
He said the commission had not received specific information about politicians’ involvement in illegal mining, but added it was a matter of investigation.
The commission also directed the state government, ruled by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), to limit exploration of iron ore, observing that natural resources should not be finished at one go.
The public hearing drew hundreds of people from civil society groups and opposition parties including the Congress, BJP, CPI and CPM.
The commission received more than 100 petitions, most of which urged it to recommend a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the mining scam worth “thousands of crores”.
The commission, which ended a week-long visit to the state, has sought to know why some mines were being allowed to operate even after expiry of their lease, a few in 2005.
The alleged mining scam, first raised in the assembly in June 2009 by opposition parties, has become a raging controversy in Odisha, which has nearly 17% of the mineral reserves of the country.
The BJD government has handed over the investigation to the state vigilance department.
Till date, 2,104 cases have been lodged and 680 people arrested in connection with illegal mining. More than 2 lakh metric tonnes of stolen minerals have been seized and at least 400 out of the total 595 mines in the state have been closed down due to different reasons.
Seven public interest litigations were filed in connection with illegal mining in Odisha high court between November 2009 and March 2011. The high court concluded hearing on April 18 and reserved judgment.
A case filed by civil society group Odisha Jan Sammelani convenor Rabi Das, pending in the Supreme Court, has claimed iron ore, manganese and coal worth more than Rs 7,000 crore is being smuggled out of Odisha every year.
The central empowered committee of the apex court in its interim report last year had said mining activities were going on in a large number of mines in Odisha without requisite forest and environmental clearance.