‘9.95 lakh tonnes of excess ore mined illegally in three districts’
Iron ore was extracted in Chitradurga, Tumkur and Bellary districts in excess of the quantity approved in the mining plans from 2006 to 2010. Iron ore worth Rs. 107.41 crore was extracted without approval in 10 mines in the three districts during this period, according to the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
The report says that in 10 cases, the Department of Mines and Geology failed to monitor whether iron ore was extracted in accordance with the mining plans approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines.
Verification of audit reports of the Department of Mines and Geology by the CAG revealed that against 41.24 lakh tonnes of iron ore that was to have been extracted by the 10 lessees in the three districts, 51.19 lakh tonnes of ore was extracted. The 9.95 lakh tonnes of excess ore extracted illegally was valued at Rs. 107.41 crore.
After the CAG brought these deviations to the department’s notice in September and November 2011, the Deputy Director of Mines and Geology in Chitradurga district said that demand notices were issued in December 2011 in respect of three lessees in the district.
However, no action was taken in respect of the seven leases in Tumkur and Bellary districts till October 2012.
The report pointed out several instances of the department permitting a few lease holders to extract mineral not specified in the lease deed prior to the grant of lease for that mineral. The CAG has sought clarification from the department on instances of iron ore being extracted in the mines where only manganese ore extraction was permitted. In one case, a lessee had extracted 1.5 lakh tonnes of manganese ore and 52,000 tonnes of iron ore without valid lease, the report said.
In another case in respect of a mining lease in Chitradurga district, the CAG report pointed out that a stock of 6 lakh tonnes of iron ore was declared in September 2005 by the lessee as old dumps and it was allowed to be transported in the subsequent years. However, verification of the mining scheme from 2006-07 to 2010-11, approved in January 2006, revealed that the iron ore extraction during the previous years was nil and there was no previous activity of mining in that lease area.
The report said that as per the mining plan, the lessee had extracted only 58,400 tonnes of iron ore from 1988 to 2005. “Accumulation of such huge quantity of old dumps was doubtful and declaration of 6 lakh tonnes of iron ore in September 2005 shows illegal extraction of iron ore valued at Rs. 47.34 crore, which should have been recovered from the lessee,” the report said.
After the CAG pointed out this irregularity, the department issued notice to the lessee in December 2011 and till the report was received in October 2012, no information was provided about the recovery of the amount due from the lessee.
In another case where over 37,000 tonnes of iron ore extracted from ‘patta’ land in Chitradurga district was allowed to be transported without recovering the cost of the ore, the department initiated action to recover Rs. 2.97 crore from the lessee after the CAG pointed out the irregularity, the report said.