Justice Shah Commission not giving fair hearing: State Miners

New Delhi: The Eastern Zone Mining Association (EZMA) on Wednesday said miners from Odisha have not been given a fair chance to present their case by the Justice M B Shah Commission, which is probing illegal mining in the country.

The Shah Commission, which is currently probing illegal mining issues in Odisha, had conducted its sessions on January 12 in Ahmedabad with the stakeholders, including state government and mining leaseholders on the issue.

"We were insisting that you (Justice Shah) give us a scope for hearing but he was not open to that. More or less, you can say that he said how can I call so many people, then I can't give my report and it will take years," said EZMA President R L Mohanty.

"We said that because you are going to give your report, you need to call them (the miners). What you are going to place in the report may harm the reputation (of some of the lessee)," Mohanty said, adding that they should be given a fair chance to present their case.

EZMA is a miners body, representing mine owners from Eastern state like Odisha and Jharkhand. In Odisha, it has about 56 members, including some big names like Essel Mining of Aditya Birla group, Rungta Mines group, Jindal Steel and Power, KJS Ahluwalia group, D R Patnaik group.

Mohanty, who is also the chairman of Odisha-based MGM group, said that EZMA with the help of apex industry body FIMI will also write to the Mines Ministry to get a proper hearing before the Shah Commission.

"We have been demanding that … you give us a hearing.

This is as per the principle of natural justice. If some one is at fault, you show him, give the chance to present and then give your report, so that his reputation is not harmed," he said.

Mohanty said that the Commission is relying on Google Maps to find out violations, and this is not the correct way to measure the faults. "This increases the chances of having errors in the proposed report of the Commission," he said.

"They (The Shah commission) are totally relying on the Google map in Odisha but Google itself gives a disclaimer…

Google does not give the accuracy. So totally relying on Google is not correct," he said.

He also claimed that illegal mining issues are not prevalent in Odisha and at best, they can be termed as the cases of "excessive mining".

"Odisha can be considered as a case of excessive mining or mining beyond permissible limits but it is not (the case of) illegal mining. No one has gone beyond the leasehold area," he said.

The Shah Commission, appointed by the Centre in November, 2010, has submitted two reports so far –an interim report on over all illegal mining in the country and a specific report on Goa. Its report on Odisha is expected shortly.