In a letter, number
4886, dated 31.07.2010, the then Secretary of Steel and Mines Department, Manoj
Ahuja, issued a circular ordering 14 mining circle offices in Odisha to stop
illegal dispatch of iron ore following the revised procedures for loading of ore
at all railway sidings situated inside the state.
(ii) of the four page circular said,
“Private railway sidings which are outside the lease area should be used to
dispatch ore exclusively by the lessee to whom the siding belongs and in case
there is a co-user agreement with different lessees to use the private sidings,
the name of such lessees should be provided to the concerned Deputy Director of
Mines/Mining Officer by the lessee to whom the private siding belongs. Only
those lessees whose name has been communicated to the Mining authorities shall
dispatch ore from such sidings following the prescribed procedure.”
Ignoring the circular,
a few Deputy Director of Mines went on issuing trading licenses to the traders,
who are neither lessees nor had they submitted any agreement to use the private
siding of others. Deputy Director of Mines, Baripada Mining Circle in the
district of Mayurbhanj, Lal Mohan Soren, had been suspended from service for violating the government circular. But in case of Umesh Chandra Jena, the
Deputy Director of Mines, Joda Mining Circle, who completely defied the circular
and issued several trading licenses to different companies to store iron ore at
the Hissaburu private railway siding of Deepak Steel & Power Ltd for onward
transportation through railways, no action has yet been initiated.
To cite an example,
M/s Thakur Prasad Sao & Sons Pvt Ltd had been issued trading license No. 68283
on 15.12.2010 by DDM, Joda to store and dispatch iron ore by using private
sidings of Deepak Steel & Power Ltd at Hisaburu, through which iron ore worth
crores of rupees had been dispatched illegally. The company was neither a lessee
nor any agreement between the both existed or produced.
A set of
communications between the Director of Mines and Deputy
Director of Mines, Joda, copy of which is available with hotnhitnews.com,
seeking report of action taken on basis of the SLES report suggests that the
Director of Mines Deepak Mohanty was aware of the whole scam and involvement of
big companies like Sesa Goa Ltd. (earlier known as Vedanta) among others in it.
Initially, he took the report on Hisaburu seriously and started acting on it.
However, it is yet to be answered whether the steps initiated by the Director
were just an eyewash or he was later pressurised by top bosses in the government
to stop his actions in regard to Hisaburu.
Taking the advantage of
the situation in the department, some senior officials had
ventured for a cover up of the mega-scam. To highlight here is that the Director of Mines
is not forwarding the Hisaburu investigation report to the government for action
even after several reminders from the Principal Secretary of the Steel and Mines
Department (Government of Odisha), R. K. Sharma. God knows why and by whose
insistence the state vigilance is not putting its nose into the Hisaburu scam.
RTI activist Sanjaya Dagra,
who applied for the reports and
detail of action taken by the Government in regard to Hisaburu mining scam, has been
denied under provisions of Sec 8(1)(h) of RTI Act citing that investigation by
the state vigilance into the particular case is on.
It would be pertinent
to mention here that, by the time the application was filed, the state vigilance had already submitted the final and
supplementary charge sheet to the Keonjhar Vigilance court on 31.12.2013 and
24.06.2014 respectively. There is no mention of facts about Hisaburu railway
siding in the charge sheet.
In another successful
attempt to suppress the facts, senior officials in connivance with the Minister, Steel & Mines, Prafulla
Mallick, had gone a step ahead and, even, misled the state assembly by omiting
from a reply the facts
on Hisaburu scam. While replying to a question about Hisaburu mining scam, raised by
BJP MLA Pradip Purohit during the monsoon session - 2015 of Odisha State Assembly, the Steel
and Mines Minister avoided citing important facts placed in the report of the State
Level Enforcement Squad.
As Hisaburu has started hissing, the story of a mining scam of a much larger
scale is being uncovered and the nexus between mining officials and looters of
Odisha’s mineral resources is getting exposed despite all attempts to keep the
episode unnoticed. Because it involves huge kickback and illegal interstate
operations, and also because there is strong apprehension that the illegally
earned money is stashed abroad as black money, a probe by the central
investigating agency CBI can possibly expose the nexus, bring all facts to
public, and save the existing mineral resources from further plunder. And, a
demand for the same is gathering momentum.
[Author is Senior
Associate Editor of
This is the third in a series of investigative reports on
Hisaburu mining scam.
Read the other two reports:
HISABURU: An Undiscovered Mega Mining Scam in Odisha
OMC: The Shrewd Player in Odisha's Mega Mining Scam