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Rs.17k crore illegal mining in Odisha

Rs.17k crore illegal mining in Odisha
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Around 2131 lakh Metric Tons (MT) of iron and 24 lakh MT of manganese of notional value of Rs 17,576 crore have been produced without necessary environmental clearance by mining companies in Odisha during 2000 to 2011, the Central Empowered Committee told the Supreme Court.

New Delhi: Around 2131 lakh Metric Tons (MT) of iron and 24 lakh MT of manganese of notional value of Rs 17,576 crore have been produced without necessary environmental clearance by mining companies in Odisha during 2000 to 2011, the Central Empowered Committee told the Supreme Court.

In its 178-page report, the Supreme Court-appointed committee recommended that mining operations in the mining leases for iron and manganese in Odisha have been undertaken practically by all the lessees without environmental clearance and/or in excess of the environmental clearances.

"Between 2000-01 and 2010-11 a total quantity of 2130.988 lakh MT of iron and 24.129 lakh MT of manganese have been produced without environmental clearance/beyond environmental clearance in the mining leases in the state of Odisha," the report, which was submitted in the apex court, said. It said that violator companies include PSUs and companies belonging to Tata and Aditya Birla groups.

"The 14 lessees who have produced above 50 lakh MT of iron and/ or manganese without/in excess of the environmental clearances include OMC Ltd., a government of Odisha Undertaking, BPME Ltd, a government of India Undertaking and companies belonging to some of the well known corporate groups such as Tata Group and Aditya Birla Group.

"The 14 lessees account for 72.83 per cent and 57.86 per cent respectively of such production of iron ore and manganese," it said.

"The total notional value of the minerals produced without/in excess of the environmental clearance, at the weighted average price of minerals as published by the IBM, adds up to Rs 17091.24 crore for iron and Rs 484.92 crore for manganese," it said.

The report said such illegal mining was done with the consent of state authorities and "the senior officers of the state government from the Chief Secretary downwards cannot escape responsibility for such wholesale and brazen violation of the Acts, Rules and guidelines and the directions of this Court and also points towards lax governance".

"It is most disturbing to note that the entire production without in excess of the statutory approvals has been transported under the transit permits issued by officers of the state government concerned and that too after payment of royalty at the applicable rates," it said.

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