06 January 2014

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Rs. 60,000 Crore Scam Shah Commission Report on illegal mining iron and manganese ore on Odisha

Rs. 60,000 Crore Scam Shah Commission Report on illegal mining iron and manganese ore on Odisha

The Shah Commission was appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act

The Shah Commission has severely indicted both the Centre and the Odisha government on illegal mining of iron and manganese ores in its 5-volume report and has asked the state government to recover over Rs 59,203 crore from the miners.

The Shah Commission, had noted a collusion of officials from the State and the Central government with the miners that lead to exploitation of loopholes in the mining regulations and flagrant abuse of green laws.

The Commission indicted the Odisha government machinery for its failure to contain illegal mining and recommended the recovery of over Rs 59,203 crore "as early as possible" from the miners against "excess and unlawful" production of iron and manganese ores.

Six months back Shah Commission submitted its report on illegal mining but government did nothing

The report had been classified as secret by the government and it was only a case filed before the Supreme Court on the matter that finally stirred the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to consider it at the Union Cabinet and move it a step closer towards its logical conclusion.

Under the regulations, the Centre is obliged to table the report along with a memorandum of action (taken by the government on the report) in Parliament within six months.

The government has refused permission to the Shah Commission to finish its work in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and denied it another extension.

The shah commission demanded criminal proceedings against the officials and the mining companies that violated laws, the panel has also asked for recovery of costs of the illegally mined ore at market or export prices.

Shah commission recommended a ban mining along the Baitarni river in Odisha

Tata Steel and the Rungta Mines Group, with five mines each, are located in the area
Tata Steel, which procures 80 per cent of its iron ore requirements from Odisha, has eight mines (including manganese ore) in the state. Of these, five mines – Khandhbandh, Joda East, Joda West, Manmora and Malda -- directly affect the Baitarni river.

SAIL's Bolani iron ore mine, the Aditya Birla group's Jilling Longalota and Kasia iron ore mines, Jindal Steel & Power's Tantra Raikela Bandhal and Adhunik Metaliks' Kulum may also face closure.

The Rungta Mines Group's mines -- Jajang, Kolmong, Oraghat, Katasai and Kalimati, Serajuddin & Co's Balda block, Sarada Mines' Thakurani-B block, R P Sao's Guali, Odisha government-owned PSU Odisha Mining Corporation's three mines and one each of BPMEL and OMDC are part of the list.

Shah Commission has recommended revisiting the environment approvals granted to all 55 mines around the Baitarni river and its tributaries.
"Till then, mines may be kept closed,"

Shah commission said that the "unscientific, non-sustainable and explosive mining" of iron and manganese ores has a lasting, very high impact on the "very existence and life of the Baitarni river" and its tributaries, rivulets and nallas.

About 40 firms and mining lease holders operate 55 mining leases that directly impact the Baitarni River.

If government accepts the report of Shah Commission it will affect many mining companies including Tata Steel, SAIL, Aditya Birla Group's Essel Mining, JSPL and Sarda Mines

The Commission said that "on perusal of approved environmental clearances given by the Environment Ministry, it is observed that the information inputs of rivulets, water courses and rivers in and around mines are either incomplete or suppressed or false."

Moreover, the networking of water channels and small nallas originating from hill tops and heavily forested slopes are now "completely shattered due to large mining pits, dumps, roads and other mining activities,"

The Commission said, "River water is also polluted and it gets color of the minerals due to discharge of effluent water. It is apparent that environmental laws are not implemented effectively and polluting mining companies are not punished at all."

The high content of iron, manganese and other heavy metal generated from dumps of mines flowing through rivers are highly detrimental to aquatic fauna in the estuaries and the Bay of Bengal

All modes of illegal mining" are being carried out in the state and "it appears that law has been made helpless because of its systematic non-implementation"

Out of 192 mining leases of iron and manganese ores in the state, "130 lessees are/were noted to be doing production without lawful authority" in violation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notifications 1994 and 2006.

Moreover, 94 mines were found to be operating without environment clearance (EC), while 96 obtained delayed ECs, the Commission said. "Overall, 109 mining leases are/were working under deemed extension and doing production in violation of EIA, 1994 and 2006."

According to the Commission, iron ore worth over Rs 45,453 crore and manganese ore worth over Rs 3,089 crore has been extracted "illegally and without lawful authority" by the miners in Odisha in violation of EC conditions alone.

It has also traced freight evasion cases by iron ore exporters, who move the mineral under domestic movement category by showing false excise certificates and recommended that the Railways should ask CBI to investigate the cases.

For movement of iron ore, the Railways has two tariff structures - domestic (having lower tariffs) and other than domestic (having higher tariffs). By 2010-11, charges for domestic movement of iron ore was one-fifth of that of other than domestic. According to the Commission, the Railways has informed that notices have been sent to 14 companies for recovery of Rs 1,874 crore on account of freight evasion.

Commission said that  All mining leases should be granted via auction route only, including those mines where leases are not renewed and are operating under deemed extension route or which are coming for first, second or third renewal

Noting that the Odisha government has sent 146 show cause notices to mining lease holders for excessive production between 2000-01 and 2009-10, the Commission said, "it is apparent that there must be unlawful mining, Value of the unlawful extraction of iron and manganese ores comes to Rs 59203,33,13,342 (i.e. about Rs 59,203 crore).

"Let the state government recover the said amount by finalizing the proceedings on the basis of the notices as early as possible and use the said amount for the development of the two districts, namely, Keonjhar and Sundargarh, which are badly affected by illegal excess mining."

The Commission said it has also come across "one of the biggest illegal mining ever", worth over Rs 2,000 crore, in the Uliburu Reserve and Revenue Forests. The case be handed over to the CBI for further inquiry

The state forest department filed a case with Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Barbil on December 2, 2011, the Commission said. It added: "The case was filed before the JMFC and others 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.

"Since this is one of the biggest illegal mining ever observed by the Commission, it is strongly felt that this is a fit case to handover to CBI and follow up action."

It has also recommended to handover all cases to the CBI "where the FIRs were registered by Police, Vigilance, Mines, Revenues, Forests and other departments" from 2008-2011.

The state police may not be able to do justice with the quantum of illegalities due to mighty lease owners, political leaders and officials at higher ranks," the Commission said. Noting that its members themselves had seen the big amount of pollution in the mining areas, the Commission said that "instead of being eco-friendly, the trend of the lessees has been dollar friendly, so that they can earn super normal profits by exporting iron ore".

The Commission said the auction of mining leases will give large profit to the state government and the consideration may be "in nature of earning revenue" or may be "to best subserve the common good or amalgamate the two". It has also recommended giving preference to miners who extract iron ore for "captive usage", and said that the auction should be on the basis of sharing annual production or extraction of iron ore and not on a fixed rent basis as is the practice. Half the collected amount from auction of the mining leases should be used by the state government on welfare of the area and its people as nobody has bothered about tribals, it added. "The money should be used for upliftment of local area and for restoring eco-system and degraded environment. The natural abode of the tribals has been used for extraction of minerals and their fundamental right to survival has been affected," it said. The Commission has also recommended fixing the production of iron ore in Odisha at 55 million tonnes annually and asked the Centre to consider banning exports of the mineral.

The commission has recommended that offenders of mining and environmental laws be imprisoned up to six months with or without penalty. Other recommendations included capping of iron ore production and shutting down mines running without necessary clearances.

Here we a need a reform a law which will make it mandatory compulsory for every commission to submit its report to press , supreme court of India and then finally government

Currently what happens in India, commissions are formed to delay the investigation, gives an opportunity to criminals to destroy evidence and create documents which can save the rich and powerful

Additionally the governments does not implement those reports and does not even make them public

What will be future of report?

Next 10 or 50 years no one will go to jail and justice will be delayed and it will be denied

India needs to bring systematic changes in Indian administrative procedures making every government officer accountable with punishments like 100 year jail terms

Reality views by sm –

Monday, January 06, 2014

Tags – Odisha Mining Ore Scam Rs. 60,000