Reported by Chinmaya Dehury with inputs from Delhi Bureau
Bhubaneswar, April 24:
In a face saving effort, both the Odisha government and mining lessees involved in the multi-crore mining scam today claimed before the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) that all the mining activities in the state are being carried out with requisite statutory clearances .
“The CEC basically focused on six issues including the statutory clearances of mines. We have said that the working mines have all the statutory clearances and there is no issue of illegal mining,” said chief secretary JK Mohapatra after coming out of the meeting in New Delhi.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer and BJD MP Pinaki Misra, who had also appeared before the CEC today, claimed that Odisha mining issue is a unique case and completely different from Goa and Karnataka.
“All the materials relating to mining activities in the state have been submitted to the CEC. Odisha is probably a unique case and not like Goa and Karnataka, where massive illegal mining had taken place. But in Odisha, not a single case has been found operating without clearances,” said Misra.
Misra had acted as the counsel of a number of leading mining lessees before the Shah Commission which inquired into the Rs 60,000 crore mining scam.
The CEC will submit an interim report to the Supreme Court, which is hearing on the illegal mining in the state, on what interim orders could be issued to deal with the problems posed by large-scale illegal mining in Odisha.
The CEC report to the Supreme Court will be mostly based on the inputs from the state government in today’s meeting and will decide the fate of the state’s mining sector.
The committee had asked the state government about the factual position of mining lessees that have obtained approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and have secured environment clearance.
It had also asked the government to furnish a list of such leases that are devoid of such statutory clearances and a list of mining leases that have the necessary approvals under different mining laws and also the ones without such clearances.
In its report on illegal mining in Odisha in April 2010, the CEC had held that mining activities were going on in a large number of mines in the state without the requisite approvals under Forest (Conservation) Act-1980, environmental clearances and air & water Acts. The mining activities also exceeded production limit as approved under the Mining Plans.
In its report, the CEC pointed out the misuse of ‘deemed extension’ clause in Odisha under Rules 24-A (6) of Mineral Concession Rules-1960.