Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government, which managed to complete the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey of just 20 mines in the two years since the directive in this regard by the Justice MB Shah Commission, today set itself an ambitious target of completing the survey of an incredible 127 mines in the next seven months.

In October 2014, the State government had said it will conduct DGPS survey in 148 iron ore and manganese mines to check illegal mining operations outside the leasehold areas.

Director of mines Deepak Mohanty had then said: "We have already completed DGPS survey of 39 iron and manganese mines in the State. The DGPS survey of remaining 148 mines will be conducted soon and is expected to be completed by the end of May 2015."

But close to two years down the line, the government has completed the survey of only 58 mines, but still believes it can complete the process in the next 6-7 months.

“There will be a joint survey of these mines by officials of the Forest, Revenue and Mining departments along with a representative of the mining lease holder. We are in the process of preparing the map. So far, survey of 58 mines has been completed and we hope to complete the rest within the next 6-7 months,” Mohanty told reporters after a high level meeting discussed the issue.

He said the government has constituted a team comprising officials of Odisha Space Applications Centre (ORSAC), director of mines and director of geology to undertake the survey work.

Mining experts say the delay in the survey work has not only forced the State government to buy time for e-auction of the mines, but also allowed the mining lessees to extract ores beyond their lease areas, as pointed out by Justice Shah in his probe report to Supreme Court on illegal mining in Odisha.

“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,” the Commission had said in its report.

Meanwhile, admitting the difference in the original lease area and the current area of operation, Mohanty said the concerned departments have been apprised to look into the matter.

“Difference is being seen in lease areas given 30-40 years ago and the current position. We have apprised Forest and Revenue departments to look into it before they are digitised,” Mohanty maintained.