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Odisha govt, miners jittery as CEC set to submit report on illegal mining to SC on Sep 15

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 10:

With the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) set to submit its report on illegal mining in Odisha to the apex court on September 15, miners and the state government are spending sleepless nights worrying about what it might contain. Of particular concern to them is the possibility that the CEC could recommend a CBI probe into the scam.

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Already reeling under the damaging revelations during the course of the ongoing probe by the central probe agency into the chit fund scam, another CBI probe is the last thing that the Odisha government wants at this stage. If anything, a CBI probe into the mining scam has the potential to cause even greater damage since it could lead to the highest echelons of the state government.

According to the Steel and Mines department of the state government, the panel has examined all the necessary information and would submit the report next week.

“We have sent information on all 26 items referred by the CEC. Besides, they have also heard the views of the miners. The CEC will be submitting their report on 15 September,” said Deepak Mohanty, director of mines.

During its visit to the state in July this year, the CEC had found major discrepancies in data presented by mines lease holders and the state government regarding lease boundary and the quantum of mineral extraction.

The CEC had allowed lease holders and the government to clear their stand over the issue. To clear the confusion, the CEC members had asked for more data from the State Pollution Control Board, Forest department, Vigilance department and the Steel and Mines department about mines lease renewal, illegal mining, encroachment of lease boundary, mining in forest areas and about excess extraction .It had also asked the miners to present their data for rectification.

On August 3, the state government submitted its data and records. Later, the CEC conducted a meeting with the miners between August 5 and 15. Then the state government was asked to send rectified data about mineral extraction and all other details after consulting with the miners.