Activist moves Justice Shah panel for action against errant mines

Bhubaneswar: Alleging plunder of minerals in state due to lapses by state government, a social activist on Saturday petitioned Justice M B Shah Commission, probing the multi-crore mining scam, seeking stringent action against errant officials and mines owners.

In a memorandum to the commission’s team now conducting its probe in the state, activist P C Sahu claimed that due to over-extraction of minerals, irregularities in mining operations and lapses on the part of officials the state exchequer suffered loss of crores of rupees.

Stating that he had earlier submitted a memorandum to the Commission during its visit to state last year, Sahu said he appeared before the panel’s team here today and gave a fresh memorandum to its leader U V Singh, also Principal Conservator of Forest in Karnataka.

Demanding thorough investigation into all mining operations and allocation of mines to identify the culprits, he said concrete steps must be taken to impose penalty on mines owners who had resorted to excess mineral extraction and continued operations without renewal of lease.

Citing a number of irregularities, the activist said he had pointed out loss to the tune of Rs two lakh crore to the state exchequer in his earlier memorandum, while the fresh memo claimed a loss of an additional Rs 20,000 crore. “The commission should recommend stringent action against errant government officials and others,” he said.

M B Shah Commission, which began a fresh round of probe in since October 3, had said most of the iron ore and manganese mines in the state would come under purview of its investigation.

“The commission will verify records and probe into all the iron ore and manganese mines allocated since 1952 whether its is closed or in operational stage,” the panel’s team leader U V Singh had said earlier.

Stating that about 186 to 195 mines were under scanner of the six-member commission team, sources said they have already verified documents and records of several mines in course of the probe so far. The team is likely to conduct its probe till October 11.