Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 12:
With the manufacturing industries facing an acute shortage of raw material following the temporary closure of mines in Karnataka and Goa and Odisha staring at possible closure of certain mines, Union Mines secretary Dr AK Pujari today batted for the re-opening of the already closed mines in Odisha after necessary corrective measures and said any ban on mining activities will adversely affect the economy of the country.
“I and the Steel secretary have come here to ensure that the mining operation is not affected. We have not come here to put a ban on the operations. However, if there are certain regulations, which are not taken care of in the right manner….as law enforcement authority we can not be turning a blind eye to that,” said Pujari after a meeting with the state government officials including the chief secretary JK Mohapatra.
Union Steel secretary G Mohan Kumar and Mines secretary Dr Pujari, secretaries of various concerned departments of the state government and representatives of the steel industry attended the meeting, which discussed a number of pending issues related to various ongoing and delayed projects in the state.
The Mines secretary emphasised the great importance of the mining sector and said it plays a crucial role in the economic growth of the country.
“To paint the complete mining sector black or to vilify or demonize it is not the right thing to do. There are some miners who are doing good work and that needs to be highlighted. People should understand that mining is a legitimate economic activity,” said the Mines secretary Dr Pujari.
Replying to a question on why the Centre is still sitting over the Shah Commission recommendations, he said, “What are actionable will always be implemented, but look at the bigger picture. Mining sector has come to almost a grinding halt and we are making every effort possible to rejuvenate it by meeting with senior officials of different mineral bearing states,” said Pujari.
The Mines secretary said, the Ministry will be advised to take the necessary steps in due course whatever the Commission has recommended, and Supreme Court would finally order, .
While the apex court is hearing a PIL on the mining scam in the state, the findings of the Justice MB Shah Commission which establishes the prevalence of rampant illegal mining in Odisha, are likely to have a bearing on the court’s interim order.
Currently in Odisha, 57 mines are operating under the deemed extension clause, which allows miners to run their operations even after the expiry of the original lease period, provided they apply for renewal 12 months before the date of expiry of the lease and if the same has not been expedited by the state or Central government.
At present, about 10 mines are operating under second renewal, 12 under third renewal and two under the fourth renewal applications.
Justice MB Shah Commission has also recommended the closure of all illegal mining operations and collection of the huge penalty amounts imposed on defaulters. It has also favoured a CBI probe into illegal mining while suggesting the re-vegetation of the natural surroundings affected by mining for ecological restoration.