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Odisha: Civil society members appeal for CBI probe into mining scam

 

A mining site in Joda of Keonjhar

Bhubaneswar,

Last updated 06 Jul 2016 01:02 IST

  Odisha, Mining Scam, M B Shah Commission, CBI

As it is rumoured, Odisha's ruling party BJD has played the card of issue based support with the Modi government whose party BJP still is in minority in “Rajyasabha,” the upper house of the Indian Parliament, apprehending that the state government may face a political crisis in case the union government orders a CBI probe into the cases of illegal mining in the state. On the other hand, delay in action on recommendations of Shah Commission also raises questions about commitment of the union government in regard to curbing corruption.

 

Raising afresh the issue of large scale illegal mining under the nose of Naveen Patnaik led government in Odisha, group of civil society members representing Odisha Janaadhikar Parishad and other forums have submitted memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and all political parties appealing for a probe by the CBI (Central bureau of Investigation) into the illegal mining operations in Odisha that led to a huge scam amounting a loss over one lakh crore rupees to the public exchequers.

It’s to be noted that the government of India had instituted a commission in November 2010 under Justice M B Shah to conduct a thorough probe into the allegation of illegal mining operation in Odisha, among other states like Karnatak and Goa, which resulted in huge loss of revenue to the states and the country as well.

Though the Commission, after inquiry, submitted its report to the Central Government on July 1, 2013, no significant step has yet been initiated on its basis.

The report of the Commission observed that mining operation in Odisha was running in violation of several laws including the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. 1957 (67 of 1957), the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (69 of 1980), the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) etc.

Citing that 11 types of illegalities in mining were committed in the state, the report said that “Due to illegal mining and Mining mafia, law has been made helpless because of its systematic non implementation.

 

Since mighty lessees, big traders of State and outside State, political entities, officers at higher ranks are involved in the whole illegal operation, it wouldn’t be possible on the part of the state Police to dig out the realities and there would be no justice done.

 

It has led many people in this country to believe that disregard of law pays and that the consequences of such disregard will never be visited upon them- particularly, if they are men with means and deceitful skill to pollute and spoil the administration.”

“This has caused extensive damage to the Government Exchequer, Environment and Social fabric of the State,” mentioned the report pointing that “There was large scale illegal mining during 2008, 2009, 2010 and a part of 2011 in the State. During this period there was collapse of Government machinery and looked to be ineffective and helpless in front of mining Mafia, persons in political life, mighty lessees, and some corrupt officials.”

“Apart from Section 21(5) of the MMDR Act, this would be a criminal offence punishable for theft, trespass and other provisions of Indian penal Code, 1973 (I.P.C). Because without any authority or permission, iron and manganese ores from the Government forest land were extracted and sold. Therefore, the offenders should be prosecuted under Section 379 and other Sections of I.P.C., by holding necessary investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (C.B.I.),” said the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister.

Since mighty lessees, big traders of State and outside State, political entities, officers at higher ranks are involved in the whole illegal operation, it wouldn’t be possible on the part of the state Police to dig out the realities and there would be no justice done, said the memorandum in support of its demand for CBI probe while bringing too fore and criticising the attempts of the Odisha government, through some eyewash efforts, to cover up the huge scam.

It is to be stated that in regard to a case filed before the JFMC, Badbil (Keonjhar) by the Forest Department, case No.228/BL of 11-12 dated 02.12.2011, the Commission had stated in Volume I, pp-22 of its report, “The cases filed before the J.M.F.C. and others are mainly to cover up such a big scandal and for finding a way out to escape. Such a large magnitude of illegal mining cannot take place without a conspiracy. The said complaint was filed just before the visit of Commission to Odisha State.”

The commission also noted in its report, Vol. I, pp-51, that, “From the records, it appears that there was no rule of law but what mighty mining lessees decide with the connivance of the concerned Department.”

Putting the above facts and observations of the M B Shah Commission in the memorandum, the group of civil society members demanded an immediate probe by the central investigating agency be ordered at the earliest.

As it is rumoured, apprehending that the state government may face a political crisis in case the union government orders a CBI probe into the cases of illegal mining in Odisha, ruling party BJD has played the card of issue based support with the Modi government whose party BJP still is in minority in “Rajyasabha,” the upper house of the Indian Parliament. On the other hand, delay in action on recommendations of Shah Commission also raises questions about commitment of the union government in regard to curbing corruption.

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