Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 25:
After the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) asked the state government to take action against miners basing on the report of the Justice Shah Commission for violating the environment norms and excess raising or minerals, the state Forest and Environment department has asked three district Collectors to furnish details about the prosecutions filed against the defaulting miners in the SDJM/JMFC court, which would then be forwarded to the MoEF.
“I am directed to say that as per the information, prosecutions have been filed against the defaulting mining projects in your jurisdiction in appropriate courts. However, the details of those charges framed against the defaulters are unknown. The details can be ascertained from the copy of the complaint petition,” said a letter written by SB Samant, director, environment-cum-special secretary, to the three collectors asking them to furnish the details, which can be sent to the MoEF at the earliest.
The letter has been addressed to the collectors of Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts.
Apprehending that the axe of Shah Commission may fall on it anytime, the government had asked the district Collectors to lodge cases against 119 mining companies to avoid further embarrassment in September last year.
The state forest and environment department has booked 119 mine owners for violation of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The miners are facing prosecution for raising ore beyond the approved limits of the Act and also for continuing mining operations without environment clearance.
This includes 62 cases in Keonjhar district, 48 in Sundergarh and nine in Mayurbhanj district. However, sources said, six miners in Jharsuguda and one in Koraput are also facing prosecution. The cases have been registered for excess extraction from iron ore, manganese, dolomite, coal and limestone mines violating environment norms. The miners will face penalty and punishment after the cases are disposed of at the SDJM level.
Earlier, the state Steel and Mines department had imposed fine worth about Rs 65,000 crore on the mine owners for raising ore in excess of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) approved mining plan which violated section 21 (5) of the Metals and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act.
The Commission has also asked the government to recover the money from the miners and ban mining in the Baitarani areas for violation of various norms.
The lessees found guilty of EP Act violation include Gandhamardhan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (Putulipani iron ore mines), Kalinga Mining Corporation (Jurudi iron ore mines), Mala Ray mines, Sirajuddin & Company (Balda mines), Bhanja Mines (Inganijharan iron ore mines), Mineral Trading Syndicate (Bhulbeda iron ore mines), Bharat Processing & Mechanical Engineering (Bhadrasahi iron ore mines), Narayani & Sons (Lahupada iron ore mines), Hargovind Pandya (Jajang iron ore mines), Essel Mining (Jhiling Langalota mines-Barbil) and TGB Lal (Kasia iron ore mines). Other miners like Tata Steel, state owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), KJS Ahluwalia and Rungta Sons also figure in the violators’ list.