Bhubaneswar, Dec 25:
The Justice MB Shah Commission has recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into illegal mining in Odisha, a report in a national daily said on Wednesday.
The Commission found serious procedural irregularities and rampant violation of mining, forest and environment norms in allotment of mines, a front page report in The New Indian Express said on Wednesday.
The Commission, which looked into procedural violations and the complicity of officials of various administrative departments, has pointed out irregularities in mines allotment and renewal of licences and castigated successive state governments for abusing the provision of deemed renewal, the Express report said. It has found officials of the Steel and Mines and Environment and Forest departments of the state government, Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and even the Income Tax guilty of complicity in the scam.
The Commission held both the Central government authorities and the Odisha government responsible for the loot of mineral wealth, another report published in The Hindu said.
According to the newspaper’s report, the Shah Commission has recommended that the entire extraction in all cases where leases operated without mandatory environmental clearances be treated as illegal and the market value — domestic or export — recovered from defaulting miners.
The Shah Commission, according to the Hindu report, has found that “94 of the 192 iron ore mining leases in Odisha do not have the mandatory environmental clearances and of the 96 that did have them, 75 have mined far beyond their permitted levels over the past several years.”
“The report says 56 mining leases operated close to identified wildlife areas without adequate protection to wildlife. The mandatory forest clearances had not been obtained in several cases. Water bodies in and around 55 mines have been polluted. Water has depleted in natural streams in some cases and forestlands impacted adversely in several cases”, the Hindu report pointed out.
The state government, which is in possession of the Commission report for at least one month now, is engaged in a desperate exercise to wriggle out of the fallout. It has reportedly hired a consultant to ‘study’ the findings of the report. It is yet to respond to the Centre’s queries on the report, which will be considered by the Union cabinet before being tabled in Parliament.