Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, June 10:
Mine owners in Odisha are a worried lot after the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) today asked them to be ready for some ‘harsh surprises’.
The CEC, which was hearing the contention of 25 miners on various illegalities and irregularities in the state on the second and last day of its visit, asked the miners to be ready for some unpleasant surprises when it submits its final report to the court by July end.
The panel also asked the state government to complete the hearing of miners, who have violated Rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rules (MCR)-1960.
The eight mining lessees that have been found guilty of violating Rule-37 and were issued show cause notices by the government are Indrani Patnaik, KJS Ahluwalia, RP Sao, Sarada Mines, Aryan Mines (Koira), Mala Ray mines (Keonjhar), Kabita Agrawal (Koira) and Mideast Integrated Steel’s (Mesco) Barbil mines.
Six of these eight lessees have already moved the appellate authority under the Central mines ministry and secured orders restraining the state steel & mines department from passing any order in their cases.
The committee also questioned mining contractor Thriveni Earthmovers’ MD B Pravakaran, whose company is raising minerals in violation of Rule 37 of the Act, a provision that bars companies from subleasing or transferring control without prior government permission.
“The state government has already started preliminary inquiry against eight miners for violation of Rule 37. The commission has asked it to expedite the process of hearing, besides examining another four cases for violation of the said rule,” said Mines director Deepak Mohanty.
It is to be noted that the Justice MB Shah Commission had stated that the Rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rules (MCR), 1960 has been sought to be frustrated by miners as “it serves the interest of a few fortunate capitalists”.
The CEC also discussed Sarada Mines, whose terms of supplies to JSPL is under scrutiny.
The CEC had asked 25 miners, including KJS Ahluwalia, Sirajuddin, Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining, Rungta Sons and Rungta Mines and Mesco and Tata Steel, to depose before it.