Mines leaseholders accused of violating mining rules have got a chance to prove their innocence before the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) submits its report to the Supreme Court by the end of this month.
The CEC team members, currently touring mines suspected of violation of relevant rules and regulations, are dissatisfied with a number of discrepancies over data provided by the miners and the state government and have decided to hold meeting with the accused miners on July 22 and 23. During the meeting, the Supreme Court-appointed panel will seek clarification on violation of mining and other laws from the mine owners, sources said.
Before their meeting in New Delhi, the miners have been asked to report to the state Steel and Mines Department with their cases on July 18.
The CEC panel, which is probing status of illegal mining in Odisha based on actions taken by the state government since 2009, has found that several miners had raised iron ore and manganese beyond permitted area, citing faulty maps provided to them.
The miners showed they were following maps provided the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) while CEC members said, maps provided by the state government or Indian Bureau of Mines must be followed for mining purposes. As per mining laws, raising minerals from outside leased areas and non-approved forest areas is a punishable offense.
The team today visited five mines in Koira mining circle and collected information on rule violation at mines of J R Patnaik, Aryan, Essel Mining (Jilling-Langlota), Rungta (Jajong) and Sirajuddin.
In April this year, the CEC was instructed by the Supreme Court to submit details of the status of illegal mining in Odisha while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL). In its petition, civil society organisation Common Cause had appealed to the top court to ban mining in Odisha after leaked reports of Shah Commission of enquiry suggested rampant illegal mining in the state. After Koira visit, the team will have a discussion with state government official tomorrow.The team is expected to submit its status report to the Supreme Court by the end of this month to help it take decision whether to allow mining in Odisha or not.
In its June visit, the panel had asked the state government to complete the hearing process of miners who have been charged with violation of Rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rule (MCR) expeditiously. During the meet tomorrow, the state government is expected to brief the CEC members regarding the status of Rule 37 violation cases.
The miners who have charged with rule 37 violation are Indrani Patnaik, KJS Ahluwalia, RP Sao, Sarada Mines, Aryan Mines (Koira), Mala Ray mines (Keonjhar), Kabita Agrawal (Koira) and Mideast Integrated Steel’s (Barbil) mines.