SC: produce panel report on illegal mining in Odisha

The Supreme Court has ordered the Centre to file copies of the Justice Shah Commission report on illegal iron ore mining in Odisha. The government had marked the report as ‘secret’ and decided not to put it in public domain until it was tabled in Parliament.

The order came on a petition seeking extension of time for the Shah Commission, which was wound up by the government and denied extension to probe illegal mining in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

The Hindu had reported on the contents of the report as well as the fact that it had been marked secret by the government.

Recently the government had decided to refer the report to a committee of secretaries to prepare an ‘action taken report’ on it, which suggested that the report’s tabling in Parliament may be further delayed. Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, reports are to be tabled within six months of submission, which had not happened in this case.

This order came after senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the applicant, said the media had reported the contents of the said report on Odisha and the state of affairs was shocking.

The Green Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice A.K. Patnaik, also ordered that the government provide a copy of the report to the Central Empowered Committee.

The Hindu had leaked parts of the report citing the fact that a majority of the mines in Odisha had been operating in violation of green laws. Ninety-four of the 192 iron ore mining leases, the Shah Commission found, did not have the mandatory environmental clearance and of the 96 that did secure green clearance, 75 had mined far beyond their permitted levels over the past several years. This led to illegal mining worth roughly Rs. 60,000 crore, it was reported elsewhere.

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