A team of the Supreme Court (SC) appointed central empowered committee (CEC) would embark on a four-day visit to Odisha starting July 12 to conduct field verification of some iron ore and manganese mines which are accused of operating in violation of the mining laws.
"A four member CEC team will be taking up field visits to the Joda and Koira mining areas on July 13 and 14 and will discuss with the state government officials on July 15," said Deepak Mohanty, director (mines), Odisha.
The team will verify the allegations pertaining to violation of Rule 37 of Mineral Concession Rules (MCR) -1960 during their field visit.
In a related development, the state mines secretary G Srinivas, director (mines) Deepak Mohanty and principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) J D Sharma are scheduled to attend a meeting on Wednesday in New Delhi called by the CEC.
The CEC meet is likely to deliberate on the updated status report of 187 mines submitted by the state government. The report includes status on lease period, renewal of the mining leases, consent to operate, mining plan, forest and environment plan as well as status of working and non-working mines.
"Some of the lessees have objected to the errors in data base. After reconciling, we have submitted the updated report to CEC," Mohanty added.
The CEC has also been apprised on the compliance of the May 16 order of the Supreme Court (SC). The apex court had suspended operations in 26 mines in the state operating under the provisions of 'deemed extensions' under Section 24-A (6) of MCR, 1960.
The apex court in its interim order held that such mines awaiting second and subsequent lease term renewals, cannot continue operations without express orders of the state government.
In compliance with the SC order, the state mines department had recently passed orders for carrying on operations of eight mines.
These included four leases of Tata Steel- Bamebari, Katamati, Joda East and Joda West, three of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL)- Bolani, Barsuan and Kalta and one lease- Kurmitar Pahar held by state run Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC). The express ore brought relief to captive steel makers and to an extent the end users sourcing iron ore from the state.
The mines department had set an internal timeline to issue work orders for the balance 18 mines by the end of this month.
Miners were required to obtain all pending statutory clearances, if any, within three months from the date of issue of express orders by the state government, failing which the orders would stand null and void.