Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, June 9:
The two-member team of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on mining, which today undertook an independent assessment of status of mining activities in Odisha, grilled the state government officials for allowing the miners to operate without having statutory clearances.
The committee members NK Jiwarika and Madan Mohan Vyas reviewed the 26 mines, which were closed temporarily following the directive of Supreme Court in April this year. It also took note of other working mines that have been operational under deemed extension for years together.
“The Supreme Court empowered committee discussed about the 26 mines and several other mines, which have discrepancies relating to various clearances. They pointed out major violations including forest and environment clearances. Many mines were allowed to operate near the sanctuaries affecting the ecological system,” said an Odisha government official present in the meeting.
However, Development Commissioner I Srinivas claimed that the CEC expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the state government against illegal mining in the state.
Prior to the meeting with different officials of Steel and Mines and Forest and Environment departments, the team had interacted with the Development Commissioner at the State Secretariat here.
“They have expressed their satisfaction over the steps being taken by the state government on mining activities. We have recommended the renewal of eight mines and the decision on the remaining 18 mines will be taken after the inter-departmental committee recommends it,” said Srinivas to media persons.
The court in its interim order had directed temporary closure of 26 mines and asked the government expedite the renewal of leases for the mines.
The government has recommended renewal of eight mines so far.
The Supreme Court-appointed CEC will recommend the preventive and remedial measures to the court after completion of the assessment on mining activities in the state.
The Committee will interact with a number of mines operators on Tuesday.