By Our Correspondent
KOIRA/BARBIL/BHUBANESWAR: Why CBI silent on RML Group? Looting continuing in Keonjhar-Sundargarh. The Chaibasa, Jharkhand headquaters , SR Rungta and ML Rungta Mines Group, which owns dozens over mines in Odisha, however despite Mining Scam, Justice MB Shah Commission probe, Vigilance probe, probe by ED and subsequent, new Mines and Minerals( Development and Explorations) Act of 2015, running its illigal mining network in Odisha’s mineral rich Keonjhar-Sundargarh district.
RML Group looted Rs 10,000 crore from Keonjhar-Sundargarh through illigal mining since past 10 years. A spot visit to Rungta Mines Group’s mines — Jajang, Kolmong, Oraghat, Katasai and Kalimati in Keonjhar-Sundargarh will only tell you the truth , how illigal mining is continuing now also.Even as Rungta Mines Group figured prominently in the illegal mining activities, the State Vigilance probing the multi-crore mining scam is yet to submit chargesheet against the company and the mining officers involved in the scam.
Baitarni River got polluted and it gets color of the minerals due to discharge of effluent water. It is apparent that environmental laws are not implemented effectively and polluting RML Group are not punished at all.
The high content of iron, manganese and other heavy metal generated from dumps of mines flowing through rivers are highly detrimental to aquatic fauna in the estuaries and the Bay of Bengal.
Several environmental and wildlife activists have demanded a CBI probe into SR Rungta and ML Rungta Mines Group in Joda-Barbil-Koira region in Odisha’s mineral rich Keonjhar and Sundargarh. The company involved in illegal mining. Illegal mining and transportation continuing at SR Rungta and ML Rungta Mines Group, illegally hatched good relations with Odisha Government and Indian Bureau of Mines officials.
“We demand CBI probe against SR Rungta and ML Rungta Mines Group and arrest of Company Director, Chairman and for illegal mining, air, water pollution, wildlife and forest act violation and violation of mines and minerals act,” SN Mallick, a leading wildlife activist said.
The Odisha Government’s decision to extend the mining lease to RML Group in Sundargarh-Keonjhar mining belt raised many eyebrows as the mines firm looted crores from Sundargarh-Keonjhar region of Odisha’s mineral rich belt through illegal mining, he said.
Despite CBI cases, Vigilance cases and other illegal mining cases in Odisha High Court, Supreme Court , Justice MB Shah Commission , the company managed get an extension to its mines. The State Government has extended the lease period as per the provision of the MMDR (Amendment) Act, 2015 while keeping a blind eye on illegal mine owners.
This apart, company played a key role in Odisha mining scam and violated Mines and Minerals Act, Mines and Minerals Regulation Act of 1957’s section 21. The company involved in illegal mining, theft and transportation. The company has violated pollution control act of 1986, air pollution control act of 1981, water pollution control act of 1974 and forest rights act of 1980.
Companies were supposed to extract mining with clearance of air and water pollution control under various acts like Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and consent to operate under the Water (PCP) Act, 1974 and Air (PCP) Act, 1981.
The firm has been violating forest and wildlife laws .The Company, which is also creating air and water pollution while defying orders of Odisha State Pollution Control Board and Union Forest and Environment Ministry. Action should have taken against the company under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and Odisha Forest Act-1972 and Mines and Minerals Act. But instead , the company got extension to run its closed mines.
Company which operating without valid consent to operate should have been issued closure directions or will be prosecuted as per the provisions in Water (PCP) Act, 1974 and Air(PCP) Act, 1981.While granting “consent to operate”, it will be ensured that the proponent has obtained all other statutory clearances under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.The Company has no respect to labour laws, they said.
According to the Justice MB Shah Commission, iron ore worth over Rs 45,453 crore and manganese ore worth over Rs 3,089 crore has been extracted “illegally and without lawful authority” by the miners in Odisha in violation of EC conditions alone.
The Vigilance probe into illegal mining of ML Rungta and SR Rungta in Silijoda and Kalimati mines revealed that the Government received an application from the company on December 1, 1994 for renewal of the mining lease for a period of 20 years with effect from January 1, 1996.The Government asked the company to submit compliance fulfilling the terms and conditions for renewal of the lease by February 10, 1999. Curiously, mining lease was renewed by the Steel and Mines Department on January 21, 1999 before receipt of the compliance.
The company was given mining lease over 715.639 hectares on January 1, 1946. Of the total area, 146.746 hectares was forest land, 524.80 hectares non-forest land and 44 hectares was classified as tenant land.After enforcement of the district-level committee (DLC) recommendations, an area of 313 hectares out of the non-forest area of 568.893 hectares came under forest land. Of the forest area, 206 hectares were split and the remaining 107.05 hectares were virgin.
Although mining lease was granted for extraction of manganese ore only, the company applied for inclusion of iron ore in the lease deed on April 9, 2001. Mr Patra, the then DDM, Joda, recommended on April 30, 2001 for inclusion of iron ore saying no de-reservation of forest plan (DRP) was required as the area was split before 1980.Objecting to his recommendation, the then joint director of mines sought clarification from Patra. Ignoring the objection raised by the joint director of mines, Sasadhar Sahoo, the then director of mines included iron ore in the lease deed vide an office order dated Sept 27, 2002.
The company extracted iron ore of over 2.64 lakh tones from 2003 to 2009 and despatched 2.61 lakh tonnes. The approximate cost of the iron ore despatched illegally was about ` 57.61 crore.Even though extraction of iron ore from the broken land required DRP clearance, Bikram Singh, the then divisional forest officer, did not object to the mining operation in the broken areas. This illegal mining continued even during the stint of Manas Ranjan Mohanty and Madan Mohan Biswal who were posted there as DDM.