The M B Shah Commission of enquiry that recently submitted its first report on illegal mining in Odisha, has pointed out glaring violation in respect of Kolmong manganese mines leased out to Rungta Sons in Sundergarh district.
The probe panel questioned the basis of splitting of the original lease into two separate leases - Kolmong and Kanther-Koira, both in Koira sector and also illegally expanding the lease area by 50 acres in excess of the original lease grant.
"You are requested to submit as to how the lease area has been increased to 50 acres in excess of original lease grant under Section 8 of the MMDR (Mines and Minerals- Development & Regulation) Act, 1957and then under what provisions the lease has been divided into two leases. You are also requested to submit the lease map of the first lease granted on January 1, 1937 of Kolmong area (lease deed signed on May 8, 1939)," stated a letter from the Shah commission to principal secretary (steel & mines), Odisha.
The commission has further urged the state government to furnish the necessary information on or before July 27. The lease deed for Kolmong manganese mines spread over 113.75 hectares was executed in May 1939. The mine was leased out by Dharanidhar Indra Deo, the Raja of Bonai (Sundergarh district). The original lease was for a period of 20 years which has been subsequently extended from time to time. Data from the regional office of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) shows the lease was last extended in December 1999 and is valid till December 17, 2019. The state directorate of mining shows the status of the Kolmong mines as 'working'. The Kanther-Koira manganeses mines is spread over 73.65 hectares. The IBM in December 2009 had ordered suspension of this mine under Rule 13 (2) of Mineral Conservation and Development Rules-1988. Later, the suspension order was revoked.