Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 2:
It is now clear that the Rs 100 crore corpus proposed by mining companies for development of iron mining areas in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts was nothing but a carefully thought out ploy to prevent action against themselves for rampant illegal mining for years. A full eight months after the proposal was mooted at a hearing of the Justice MB Shah Commission of Inquiry in Aahmedabad, the companies are yet to prepare a blueprint for the work to be undertaken or even initiate any talks with the state government in this regard.
Eight mine owners had offered to invest about Rs 100 crore together for local area development of the two mineral rich districts before the Commission in April last year.
The miners – K.J.S. Ahluwalia group, R. P. Sao, D. R. Patnaik, Indrani Patnaik, Kalinga Mining Corp, Sirajuddin & Co, and Thriveni Earthmovers – have formed a trust named Gramin Vikas Chaitanya Kendra (GVCK) — for investing the money in Keonjhar and Sundargarh. All of them have mines in the two mineral rich but backward districts.
“We have no information about the proposal of the miners. Neither the miners nor the Shah Commission have intimated us regarding the developmental activities to be carried out in the districts so far,” said director of mines Deepak Mohanty.
Mohanty said even though the miners had stated that they will take the assistance of state government to implement various projects in the areas, they are yet to submit any blue print or hold any discussion with the government officials.
Through GVCK, the mine owners planned to build education centres, super-speciality hospitals and a sports academy. Construction of roads and bridges, provision of drinking water to villages, restoration of the original flora and fauna of the areas were also part the agenda.
It is to be noted that the miners had maintained that the Rs 100-crore corpus was only for the first couple of years, after which all the participants would plough 4-5 per cent of their profit after tax (PAT) in the trust (the GVCK).
The GVCK, consisting of social activists, experts, eminent persons of society and State Government representatives, was assigned to oversee the implementation.
Attempts to contact Eastern Zone Mining Association (EZMA) president RL Mohanty and secretary Prabodh Mohanty proved futile as they did not respond to calls from OST.
It is to be noted that the Shah Commission has already submitted its report to the Ministry of Mines, which has reportedly recommended a CBI probe into the mining scam in the state.
The Commission, according to media reports, found serious procedural irregularities and rampant violation of mining, forest and environment norms in the allotment of mines. It has found that 94 of the 192 iron ore mining leases in Odisha did not have the mandatory environmental clearances and of the 96 that did 75 have mined far beyond their permitted levels over the past several years.