Illegal mining: State swings into action, Min says strong action to recover losses

Bhubaneswar: In the aftermath of the alleged Rs 1800 crore illegal mining in Uliburu area of Keonjhar district, the State government on Thursday woke up to send officials for a ground inspection to cobble more information on the mining as well as lease area.

The team headed by Keonjhar sub-collector visited the forest area and took measurement of the stock yard. The team involving Joda Mines circle officials and Tehsildar and Forester of Barbil also gathered the required information to take stock of revenue losses as alleged.

Investigations have revealed that in the Uliburu forest, B K Mohanty Mines had illegally excavated ores in 35 hectares of which 6 hectare falls in reserve forest area.

However talking tough on the allegation, state steel and mines minister Rajani Kanta Singh said, “Strict action will be taken by the government to recover the losses.”

Meanwhile, Director of Mines in a letter to the Principal Secretary of the department has asked about steps taken after the matter came to light from the report of March joint verification carried out in village Uliburu and inside Uliburu Reserve Forest by officials of Forest, Revenue and Mining.

The report mentioned the area of illegal mining activities carried out by BK Mohanty and Deepak Gupta (power of attorney holder of BK Mohanty) comes to 35.51 ha out of which 6.39 ha is within Uliburu Reserve Forest, 24.31 ha is having Kissan Forest and 4.81 ha is non-forest land.

It had further noted that Mohanty and Gupta have not obtained forest Clearance required under the provision of section 2 of FC Act, 1980, for use of above forest land for non forestry purpose.

The Director of Mines in his letter stated that though Mohanty in November 1999 had requested the State Government to accept his application for surrender of the lease hold are of 56.94 ha, leased in favour of him for 20 years with effect from 13.12.1983, the latter in May and July 2002 intimated for withdrawal of the above application.

The lessee in March 2003 had requested the Government to accept his application for surrender of the lease area. In the letter he also stated that he had not filed for renewal of the lease area with a view to surrender the same. Since the lease expired on 12.12.2003, the application for renewal is not fulfilled in satisfaction of provisions of Rule-24 A(1) of Mining Concession Rules, 1960.

The lessee has applied to government for condoning the delay which is yet to be approved.  

However, the Director of Mines has also asked to take actions to reject the application of BK Mohanty Mines for condonation of delay and renewal of mine lease (RML) application.