Minerals worth Rs 60K-cr illegally extracted in Odisha: Shah

Minerals worth Rs 60K-cr illegally extracted in Odisha: Shah

Steel and mining giants like Tata Steel, SAIL, JSPL and Aditya Birla Group were found to have unlawfully mined minerals worth Rs 60,000 crore in 2008-2011, Shah Commission said in its report tabled in Parliament today.

The government-appointed Justice M B Shah Commission of Inquiry's report said most of the mining activity in the state between 2008-2011 was carried out with political patronage and defied laid-down rules. It also proposed a CBI probe to look into the irregularities.

The one-member panel, in its first report running in five volumes, also suggested Odisha recover the amount which could be used for developing the affected Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts and helping tribals who were impacted by mining.

"Value of the unlawful extraction of iron and manganese ore comes to Rs 59,200 crore.... Let the state government recover the said amount, by finalising the proceedings on the basis of the notices as early as possible," the report said.

"This at least can remove the poverty of tribals who are affected or whose lands are used for mining purpose," it said, adding that mining led to displacement of tribals and forced them to stay in "pathetic and miserable conditions".

Odisha government, in its action taken report, said that already 146 notices had been sent to leading iron and steel makers, who were allegedly involved in illegal mining.

Disagreeing with Commission's observation that there was a collapse of the state machinery during the said period, the Odisha government said: "The investigations are more or less complete.... There appears to be no need to hand over investigation of these cases to any other agency."

When contacted, the indicted companies said that they were yet to get access to the Commission's report.

A Tata Steel spokesperson said: "We are still to go through the report."

An Aditya Birla Group's spokesperson said: "We have had no access to Shah Commission report and so, as of now, we have no comments to offer." Essel Mining of Aditya Birla Group was named in the report.

SAIL said it would offer comments after going through the report, but asserted that it had followed all necessary norms and guidelines. JSPL, whose Jindal Strips was named, did not offer comments. 

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