The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 11 , 2014
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Govt rules out iron ore export ban

MIne game

New Delhi, Feb. 10: The Centre has rejected a suggestion to completely ban the export of iron and manganese ores . The proposal was given by Justice M.B. Shah Commission of Inquiry set up to look into the irregularities in mining between 2008 and 2011.

The report tabled in Parliament said the country had lost minerals worth over Rs 59,000 crore because of illegal mining in Odisha during 2008-11.

It recommended either a ban on iron ore exports or capping the production at 50 million tonnes (mt) per annum against the current level of 150mt per annum to ensure conservation.

The Centre, in its reply on the action-taken report that was tabled in the Rajya Sabha, said it was not in favour of a blanket ban though it had the national interest in mind.

The Shah panel report said, “The value of the unlawful extraction of iron and manganese ore comes to Rs 59,200 crore. Let the state government recover the said amount by finalising the proceedings on the basis of the notices as early as possible.”

The recovered amount should be used for the development of the Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts in Odisha, which are badly affected by illegal mining, the report stated.

“Since there is involvement of mighty lessees, big traders of state and outside state, political entities, officers at higher rank, it will not be possible by state police to find the facts and realities and there would be no justice done for the quantum of illegalities took place,” it said, recommending a CBI probe.

Disagreeing with commission’s observation that there was a collapse of the state machinery during the period, the Odisha government said, “The investigations are more or less complete. There appears to be no need to hand over the investigation of these cases to any other agency.”

In the action-taken report, the Naveen Patnaik-led government said, “Chargesheet will be filed within the next month. Some accused are absconding.” Denying charges of the involvement of political leaders in illegal mining, the state government said, “No specific complaint against any political leaders was received and linkages established during investigation, and hence, cases have not been registered against them.”

Iron ore output in Odisha had fallen following a crackdown on illegal mining. In Karnataka, mining was banned by the Supreme Court in 2011 before being allowed to resume in a regulated manner in mid-2013. The apex court had stopped mining in Goa in 2012.

As a result of legal intervention, iron ore production in India in 2012-13 fell to 143mt from 177mt in the previous year and a peak of 226mt in 2009-10.