The third volume of the Second Report of Justice Shah Commission of enquiry regarding illegal mining in Odisha, has recommended the Centre to initiate probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against 14 miners due to involvement of state government officials in large scale illegal mining.
The report, which was tabled in the Parliament earlier this week, said, since there was enough evidence that state government officials had knowledge of the rule violations by miners, only an inquiry by a central government agency such as CBI could unravel all the culprits. In the second volume of the Second report, the enquiry panel had recommended CBI inquiry into all cases of illegal mining in Odisha. In the third volume, after scrutinising 23 iron ore leases allotted to 14 miners, the report said CBI inquiry must be started against companies such as Aditya Birla group controlled Essel Mining, Sirajuddin and Co, Indrani Patnaik, Sarada Mines, Aryan Mining, M L Rungta, Mesco, Kalinga MIning Corporation, Ram Bahadur Thakur, S N Dasmohapatra.and four other small miners.
These companies have been found guilty of illegal mining, excess production, violating Rule 37 of Mineral Concession Rule 37 (subletting of lease), and evading crores of rupees in terms of income tax and sales tax payment, the report said, alleging lax attitude of the state government authorities for perpetration of the crime. “It reflect on the poor administration of the state government and disregard with impunity to the law. The implementing and controlling agencies of the state seemed to be either acting in connivance or were helpless and silent spectators,” the inquiry report said in conclusion.
The Commission also questioned the relevance of handing over mining operation to private parties citing large scale tax evasion by miners.
“If the only amount that the government gets out of mining, royalty and taxes, are evaded through such devious means then there will be very little justification for private mining,” it said in its observation.
The Shah Commission also upbraided steelmaker Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) , UK-based trading agency Stemcor and mining contractor Thriveni Earthmovers Private Ltd (TEMPL) for taking control over iron ore mines allotted to other leaseholders.
In its inquiry report, the commission has found out that JSPL was allowed to install crushing units inside leased area of Sarada mines, while Stemcor laid slurry pipelines from mines lease area of Aryan Mining and Trading Company (AMTC). Similarly, huge payments made by Thriveni to group companies of Sirajuddin apparently proved that ‘TEMPL may not merely be a raising contractor but actually an entity who controls entire mine by proxy’.
It found out that as many as 15 miners encroached more than 15 per cent of their total lease area for mineral production and has suggested cancellation of their leases. In its action taken report, the state government however, said it would take appropriate action after proper investigation by its vigilance department.