Orissa government has constituted a high-level committee to verify legality of various mines to prevent illegal mining in the State.

“The committee has been asked to submit its report on legality of mine leases (ML) and renewal of mining leases (RML) by May 10,” Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty told PTI.

The committee’s report would be submitted to the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on mining irregularities, Mr. Mohanty added.

Stating that the panel, headed by the director of mines, would examine different aspects of MLs and RML, the minister said it was also empowered to recommend action in case of violation of norms.

The committee would comprise senior officials from departments of forest, revenue, home, mines and a senior scientist from the pollution control board. The members would verify legality of individual ML and RML, he said.

A formal notification in this regard was issued by the steel and mines department.

Of about 600 mine leases given so far in the State, operation in more than 160 mines had been suspended after the ’multi-crore mining scam’ report came to fore last year.

The committee would look into forest clearance, pollution clearance and other legal bindings for operation of mines, sources said, adding that some mines were found to be operating in reserve forest areas even without obtaining the required forest clearance.

Some other mines running for the past several decades were also found not taking adequate pollution control norms for upkeep operation, the sources said.

The minister said the State government had already taken several measures to stop mineral smuggling.

Besides giving special power to the police in mineral-rich Keonjhar, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj districts to take action against the mining irregularities, the State government clamped prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC at three different railway sidings to prevent illegal transportation of minerals by trains, he said.

Keywords: Mining minerals