The Telegraph
Friday , January 24 , 2014
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Mining scam: A few questions & answers

Intense speculation over Justice MB Shah Commission report, which is widely believed to have panned both the Centre and the state governments for failing to check illegal mining, has also sparked interest in the follow-up action taken by the state that might be part of its action taken report.

Here is what the state government’s ATR may contain while addressing probable queries arising out of the Shah Commission report and The Telegraph comment in each case.

Question: What steps the state government has taken to bring errant mine owners to the heel?

Govt: A fine of Rs 65,469 crore has been imposed on 60 companies for excess mining. The state vigilance department has filed more than a dozen cases for illegal mining

TT: Not a single penny has so far been realised from the companies concerned as they have moved different fora against the government order. Cases filed by the vigilance are yet to reach their logical end

Question: What was the last step taken to check violations on the mining front?

Govt: The Jajpur district administration on January 13 issued show-cause notices to 12 mining lessees, including the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation, on the charges of violation of environmental and other mandatory laws

TT: Follow up action on this is awaited

Question: Has illegal mining around sanctuaries such as Similipal been stopped?

Govt: Steps has been taken to prevent mining within 10km radius of Similipal sanctuary

TT: Charge of illegal mining in the area by mafia from Jharkhand continue to be made though the scale of loot has come down significantly

Question: What steps have the forest and environment department taken to check illegal mining?

Govt: The department has booked more than 110 mine owners.

TT: But this, as the Similipal case shows, has not succeeded in stopping violations completely

Question: What is the latest on the Uliburu mining scam in Keonjhar district?

Govt: The vigilance has filed charge sheet against 25 persons. It showed that nearly 6.5 million tonne iron ore was extracted illegally between 2003 and 2009 from the Uliburu area. Fourteen government officials have been suspended

TT: It’s a complicated case that may drag in the courts for a long time

Question: What steps have been taken by the government to ensure transparency on the mining front in the wake of the scam?

Govt: A project management unit has been constituted in steel and mines department to monitor all mining related activities and steps taken for on-line issuance of tenders and mining leases. Steps have also been taken to install radio frequency identity cards on trucks carrying minerals to track their movement. The chips in the identity card carry relevant information about the quality and quantity of minerals being carried by the trucks. The process of modernising check gates to prevent leakages on the way is going on

TT: The efficacy of the new system will be tested in the coming days