Interim report on illegal mining in 6 months

Interim report on illegal mining in 6 months

Disclosing this to Deccan Herald, a senior minister, who did not want to be identified, said the Commission, which has been given a time frame of 18 months, would be welcome to submit the interim report even earlier. The state Congress leaders were unhappy over the Centre’s move to give the Commission 18 months to submit the report, hinting that the momentum that they have built up would be lost if the issue was allowed to drag.
The probe panel will not just go into illegal mining of iron ore but also of manganese and other minerals. Another important factor is that the panel can summon any agency – read the Central Bureau of Investigation – to assist it in unravelling the scale and magnitude of illegal mining.

Once the executive order is issued – it does not need a parliamentary nod – the priority before the government will be to appoint the panel’s members, including its chairman. The government is shortly expected to write to the Chief Justice of India to nominate a judge/retired judge to head the CoI. Once this is done, the Centre will come out with the terms of reference for the Commission.

Mines minister B K Handique told Parliament on Tuesday that the panel, to be set up under Commissions of Inquiry Act , 1952 , will “inquire and determine the nature and extent of illegal mining and trade and transportation of iron and manganese ores”.
He said the Commission would identify the persons, firms and companies involved and determine the extent to which the management, regulatory and monitoring systems have failed. Tampering of official records, including those related to land and lease boundaries, and identifying, as far as possible, the persons responsible for such tampering would be another task of the panel. Handique said “the commission may take the assistance of any Central/ state investigative or any other authority as it may deem it necessary to do so.”

The minister said in recent years the incidence of illegal mining “has grown considerably” and added that the problem was acquiring organised dimensions “and may lead to a nexus with criminal and anti-national elements , in some states including those affected by left wing extremism”.

Handique said illegal mining was taking place in many states “on a large scale” even though the Centre has been advising state governments to improve their regulatory systems.

Hinting that “there are many weapons in the Centre’s arsenal”, ministerial sources said that the Union government has “low, medium and high intensity weapons” to end illegal mining. “While the Commission was a low intensity weapon, the Centre was waiting unleashing other two were weapons”, they added.

State leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah on Tuesday had an impromptu discussion with Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on the issue in Parliament’s Central Hall. He is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday when too he would likely raise the issue of illegal mining.

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