Sanjay Behera | January 15, 2014
The Odisha government is in a state of shock after the supreme court directed the central government to submit the Justice M B Shah commission report on illegal mining in the state. However, a probe by the central bureau of investigation (CBI) is not ruled out, and the Odisha government is already on a sticky wicket as opposition parties, Congress and BJP, have been demanding a CBI probe into the 1,000-crore mega mining scam ever since it came to light.
The Odisha government has been avoiding CBI probe into the mining scam, and has maintained that the state vigilance, which is investigating the scam, has been doing a good job. But with the Shah commission coming into the domain of the supreme court, the possibility of CBI probe is imminent, says Lalitendu Mishra, an advocate at the Bhubaneswar high court.
While making a scathing indictment of Odisha government and the central government, the commission has reportedly said that all modes of illegal mining are being carried out in the state and it appears that the law has been made helpless because of its systematic non-implementation.
Out of the 192 mining leases of iron and manganese ores in the state, 130 lessees are reportedly doing production without lawful authority in violation of environment impact assessment (EIA) notification of 1994 and 2006.
Moreover, 94 mines were found to be operating without environmental clearances, while 96 obtained delayed environmental clearances. In total, about 109 mining leases are working under deemed extension and doing production in violation of the EIA notification.
The commission has also recommended recovery of Rs 65,000 crore from the mining companies for mining iron ore and manganese without lawful authority. In a similar situation, the apex court had directed the CBI probe into illegal mining and closure of mines in Karnataka and Goa. The supreme court may take a similar stand in case of Odisha, Mishra feels.
Apart from raising a demanding of over Rs 65,000 crore from the lessees, including the state-owned Odisha mining corporation for excess mining beyond the approved plan, the Odisha government has initiated prosecution against the lessees under environment protection act.
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