Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, June 6:
The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) will arrive in Odisha on a two-day visit on June 9 to conduct an independent observation relating to the mining activities in the state.
The CEC, which had submitted its interim report on mining activities before the apex court, will examine the statutory clearances of various mining leases operating in the state, said director of mines Deepak Mohanty. It will submit a report to the court after the examination.
It is to be noted that the SC had ordered temporary closure of around 26 mainstream mines in Odisha on the grounds of non-renewal of leases following that recommendation of CEC that about 40 mines in the state were operating under the provision of “deemed renewed” leases well after the expiry of their lease periods.
“The recommendation of CEC was based on information provided by the state government. Now, it will make an independent assessment of the mining activities in the state,” said Mohanty.
The committee, in its interim report, had said that a large number of mining leases in the state continued to operate long after the expiry of the lease period under the deemed approved norms and the 40 such leases included those of Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.
The committee said there were 187 iron ore and manganese mines in Odisha out of which these 56 were functional while 131 mining leases were not operational because they did not have the required statutory approvals or their leases had lapsed.
The report also said that out of the 131 mines, 102 were without either forest clearances or environmental clearances and were hence suspended and classified as non-working leases.
Out of the working 56 iron ore mines, only 16 had lease deeds executed in their favour while the rest 40 leases were operating under deemed extension after their leases had expired.