Justice Saha Commission’s 2nd visit put Mines owners at peril

By Our Correspondent

JODA/BARBIL/KOIRA/BHUBANESWAR: The proposed 2nd visit of Justice MB Shah Commission looking into illegal mining, forest and wildlife laws violation left illegal mine owners are on run. The Commission is expected to camp again in scam hit Odisha from October 3 to 11.

The Commission has sought details from Odisha Steel and Mines Department prior to its visit to the mining areas like Joda, Barbil, Koira ,Bonai and Sukinda. Sources revealed about 145 mines of the State have been listed by the Shah panel for probe. Among them are 85 mines under Keonjhar Forest Division, 47 mines under Bonai Division, 11 under Mayurbhanj Forest Division and two mines located in non-forest areas.

Commission sought details of TISCO of Tata Group as it was first engaged in mining work in the State way back in 1936.

Mines firms like KJS Ahluwalia Mines, KM Ram Mines, RP Sao-TP Sao Mines, Mala Roy Mines, Patnaik Minerals, Indrani Patnaik Mines,Rungta Mines , Crackers India, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Adhunik Metaliks, OCL India, IMFA, FACOR, Odisha Mining Corporation, Rama Bahadur Thakur Mines,Yazdani International (P) Ltd. ,Serajuddin & Co (p) Ltd and few more will be under scanner of the Commission.

All these above mentioned companies violated several forest and environment rules. These  also looting water in Keonjhar-Sundargarh belt that meant for agriculture.  These mines firms also has violated of Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, 1957 and Mineral Concession Rules (MCR)-1960 rules. These firms have 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. Investigations found that the company operating without the consent to operate of SPCB.

The firms 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.

Odisha Loka Dal also sought action against the firm which are operating without valid consent to operate will be 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.

It may be mentioned here that in Keonjhar, Jajpur and Sundergarh, the three major hubs of minerals, invariably the political families and non-Odia mines traders are the lease holders and owners of major mines. And a few of them had been quizzed by the state vigilance and cases were booked under extremely toothless sections enabling them to obtain bails from the court. A large number of cases are still pending in the Orissa High Court and what is common with all the petitions is the demand for a probe by the CBI. The other important point which did not find the due mention in the probe process was the role of the Railways.

There were several instances when the State’s Directorate of Mines seized rake loads of iron ore siphoned off from Keonjhar illegally. FIRs were lodged and cases registered. According to the Directorate of Mines, rail route remained the major conduit in the smuggling of minerals and which can never be possible without the knowledge of the railway authorities.