Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 23:
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) will sit on Thursday to decide the fate of the Odisha mining sector after the Supreme Court, which is hearing on the illegal mining in the state, asked it to submit a report on what interim orders could be issued to deal with the problems posed by illegal mining in the state.
A worried Odisha government today held a preparatory meeting under the chairmanship of chief secretary JK Mohapatra to defend itself against the likely recommendations of the CEC to the apex court, which is scheduled to conduct a hearing in a PIL filed by an NGO, Commoncause, over the illegal mining in the state on April 28.
“The preparatory meeting discussed various issues involved in the illegal mining activities in the state and possible measures to defend the stand of state. We have prepared all the documents that we will place in tomorrow’s meeting of the CEC,” said a senior official of Steel and Mines department.
It may mentioned here that the Supreme Court had asked the Central and the Odisha governments as well as the CEC to formally explain their position vis a vis allegations by the NGO petitioner that widespread mining illegalities were committed in Odisha.
There are apprehensions that Odisha may face the fate of Goa and Karnataka which had to go for temporary ban on mining before being allowed resumption of operation under a set of safeguard.
The top court asked the CEC to report back on the illegalities like as mining without environment clearance, forest clearance or on deemed extension and listed the issue for further hearing on April 28, next Monday.
The CEC will give a list of mines involved in these illegalities on the lines of Goa and Karnataka.
Karnataka had to face a mining ban and the industry had to meet certain obligations on R&R (reclamation and rehabilitation) before they were allowed to operate. That took two years. Goa’s mining ban was lifted on Monday, after over a year.