Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 15:
The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), inquiring into illegal mining in Odisha, today asked the state government to provide relevant data on mineral extraction and other details on the mines lease holders accused of violating rules and regulations, for the preparation of its final report.
“The members needed certain clarifications and the officials concerned provided all the details. They have also sought additional information and that will be provided by the officials of state government within the time period fixed by them,” said chief secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra after a meeting with the four members CEC team.
It is to be noted that the team, during their field visit to mining areas over the last two days, had found major discrepancies in data produced by the mines leaseholders and the state government with regard to lease area boundaries and volume of mineral extraction.
The team visited 11 iron ore and manganese mines in Joda and Koira mining circles in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts.
In order to get a clear picture on the extent of illegal mining in the state, the CEC team has asked for more data from the state government before its scheduled meeting with the accused leaseholders in New Delhi on July 23 and 24.
“The team asked for some statistical information and both the Steel and Mines and the Forest and Environment (F&E) departments have already started working on it. We hope to submit the information before July 21,” said director of mines Deepak Mohanty.
Before CEC-leaseholders meet on July 23 and 24, the Steel and Mines Department of the state government has asked the miners to report on their cases on July 18 to discuss issues of data and record mismatch, if any.
The CEC was instructed by the Supreme Court in April this year to submit details of the status of illegal mining in Odisha while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).
The team is expected to submit its status report to the Supreme Court by the end of this month to help the concerned Bench to take a final view on whether to allow mining in Odisha or not.