The panel split into eight groups for inspecting all 122 mines in the State. In no hurry, the panel is willing to visit Goa third time.
On its second visit to Goa in connection with the probe of illegal iron ore mining and exports, the Justice M.B. Shah Commission is re-inspecting the mines to verify specific complaints received through petitions about different kinds of violations by mines and follow up on issues which came out of the first inspection.
In no hurry to submit the report, the panel was willing to conduct even a third inspection, Consultant Justice R.A. Mehta told The Hindu on Wednesday. Panel member U.V. Singh said various illegalities referred to in specific complaints sent by anti-mining activists and groups were looked into during the inspection.
Since Monday last, the panel, split into eight groups, have been visiting the 90-odd operating mines and 32 non-functional mines in the State.
The panel looked into various issues such as ore transported into the State from Karnataka for exports as per the Karnataka Lokayukta report, ore handling from the dumps, violations of buffer zone for wildlife sanctuaries, excess extraction beyond environmental clearance limits, forest and environmental violations, encroachment of mines in adjoining areas, verification of traders' list, their ore sourcing, etc.
Mr. Mehta said the Commission had time till March 2012 to submit its final report after the probe in all the iron ore mining States was covered. Of course, it might yet give some reports in the interim covering some aspects of urgency.
“It is premature to say anything about illegal mining at this stage,” Mr. Mehta said.
The Commission was inquiring into illegal mining and exports in Goa, Karnataka, Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
Asked if the Commission would rely on the comprehensive Lokayukta report on illegal mining in Karnataka, Mr. Justice Mehta said: “Our task is not any easier in Karnataka. We don't go only by Lokayukta report.”
The private sector mining industry in the State exported around 54 million tonnes of iron ore last year.