Illegal mining costs Odisha Rs 60,000 cr: Panel
New Delhi: Minerals worth Rs 60,000 crore were illegally mined in Odisha during 2008-2011, Justice M B Shah Commission of Inquiry said in its report tabled in Parliament on Monday.
The first part of the government-appointed Commission's report, running in five volumes, said most of the mining activities in the mineral-rich state were carried out in disregard to rules, regulations and environmental norms.
"Value of the unlawful extraction of iron and manganese ore comes to Rs 59,200 crore. Let the state government recover the said amount, by finalising the proceedings on the basis of the notices as early as possible," it said.
The recovered amount should be used for development of Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts of the state which are badly affected by illegal mining, the report tabled in the Rajya Sabha said.
"This at least can remove the poverty of tribals who are affected or whose lands are used for mining purpose," the report said, adding that mining operations led to displacement of tribals and forced them to stay in "pathetic and miserable conditions".
The Odisha government has already sent out 146 notices to leading iron and steel makers which were allegedly involved into illegal mining.
The Commission, set up to look into irregularities in the mining space between 2008 and 2011, said: "During this period, there was a collapse of government machinery" which "looked to be ineffective and helpless in front of mining mafia, persons in political life, mighty lesses and some corrupt officials".
"Since there is involvement of mighty lesses, big traders of state and outside state, political entities, officers at higher rank, it will not be possible by state police to find the facts and realities and there would be no justice done for quantum of illegalities took place," it said recommending a CBI probe into the issue.
"It is recommended that a CBI inquiry be instituted in all cases where FIRs were registered by police, vigilance department and other cases ...During the period from 2008 and 2011," the Shah Commission said.
Disagreeing with Commission's observation that there was a collapse of the state machinery during the said period, the Odisha government said: "The investigations are more or less complete. There appears to be no need to hand over investigation of these cases to any other agency."
In the action taken report, which was also tabled in the Upper House, the Naveen Patnaik-led government said, " Chargesheet will be filed within the next month. Some accused are absconding."
Denying charges of involvement of political persons in illegal mining, the state said: "No specific complaint against any political leaders was received and linkages established during investigation and hence, cases have not been registered against them."
The Shah Commission suggested that iron ore exports should be banned and if it is not possible at this stage, production should be capped at 50 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), down from present level of over 150 MTPA to ensure conservation.
The Centre in its reply said it was not in favour of "blanket ban" on export of iron and manganese ore though it has the national interest in mind.
The Odisha government has decided to cap production in some areas of the state in order to reduce impact of large scale mining on environment.