Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 29:
While the Odisha government is earning thousands of crore rupees by way of revenue from the mineral reserves in the state, it has no mineral policy for a long term strategy for conservation and development of minerals allowing miners to loot minerals for years together.
It was pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which has criticised the government for its inability to frame a mineral policy of its own and pointed out large scale irregularities in the mineral sector.
“Audit scrutiny of records relating to formulation of State Mineral Policy revealed that a committee for formulation and finalisation of the said policy prepared draft State Mineral Policy in 2005 and was further modified in 2007 and 2010. Even after a lapse of seven years, the State Mineral Policy is yet to be finalised,” said the report of CAG report, which was tabled in State Assembly on Monday.
However, the government, in its response, said that a high power committee had been formed in February 2011 to look into the matter.
“The fact remained that a State specific Mineral Policy could have further helped in framing a long term strategy for conservation and development of minerals and boosting investors’ confidence in mining sector,” the CAG report points out.
According to the audit report, during the period from 2007-08 to 2011-12, 76 and 65 inspections were conducted in respect of working and non-working mines respectively against 536 and 237 inspections prescribed for the Joda circle as per the norms.
“The percentage of annual inspection of working mines ranged between 11 per cent and 21 per cent whereas percentage of annual inspection of non-working mines ranged between 22 per cent and 32 per cent of the norms prescribed by DMO. Thus the frequency of inspection was inadequate. Three circles did not furnish information and three circles furnished incomplete information,” it adds.
“Non-inspections of mines could lead to illegal mining and unauthorised extraction or transportation of minerals, which would affect the State revenue adversely,” CAG points out.
Forget about the mineral policy, the government is yet to approve the proposed policy prepared by three-member inter-ministerial committee, which had submitted its report on long term ore linkage to the chief minister on July 17 last year.
Companies running from pillar to post to feed their plants in the absence of ore affecting growth rate and employment of the state, have made recommendations to sort out the problems for ore supply to the local industries.