Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Barbil, July 13:
The four-member team of the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which arrived at Barbil in Odisha’s Keonjhar district on Saturday evening began its field verification at Kasia and RBT iron ore mines in Joda this morning.
The CEC team, led by P V Jayakrishna, will inspect at least 11 iron ore and manganese mines in Joda and Koira mining circles of Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts for alleged illegal operations.
The other members of the team are M K Muthu, Mahindra Vyas and SK Patnaik.
Sources said the team, during its fact finding mission at the Kasia and RBT iron ore mines in Joda today, questioned mining operations on the basis of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) map. The mining lease holders were present during the field verification at the above two mines.
On Saturday evening, the team met officials of the mining, environment and forest departments and held discussions with them on violations by miners, sources said.
According to the sources, the team, which is visiting mines in Joda, will visit Koira mining areas tomorrow in the presence of state government officials and mining lease holders after which it will hold discussions with state government officials in Bhubaneswar on July 15.
The CEC had discussed with state government officials in New Delhi on July 9 the report that includes the status of the iron ore and manganese mines – their lease period, renewal of mining leases, consent to operate, mining plan, and forest and environment plan as well as the status of both working and non-working mines.
The panel, during its visit in June, had asked the state government to complete the hearing process of miners, which have violated Rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rules (MCR)-1960 expeditiously.
Following this, the government had issued show cause notices to eight miners for statutory violations.
The eight mining lessees that have been found guilty of violating Rule-37 are Indrani Patnaik, KJS Ahluwalia, RP Sao, Sarada Mines, Aryan Mines (Koira), Mala Ray mines (Keonjhar), Kabita Agrawal (Koira) and Mideast Integrated Steel’s (Mesco) Barbil mines.
Six of these eight lessees have already moved the revision authority under the Central Mines ministry and secured orders barring the state Steel & Mines department from passing any order in their cases.
Rule 37 is a mining clause that bars companies from subleasing or transferring control without prior government permission. The committee had also questioned mining contractor Thriveni Earthmovers’ MD B Pravakaran, whose company is raising minerals on behalf of several miners in violation of Rule 37 of the Act.