Odisha asks officials to file case against mine lessees

Bhubaneswar: With an inquiry finding a large number of mines flouting environmental laws in the state, Odisha government has asked the collectors of at least six mineral rich districts to file cases against them.

Based on the findings of Justice M B Shah Commission of Inquiry, Forest and Environment secretary R K Sharma asked the collectors of Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Bolangir and Rayagada to provide details of prosecution filed in respect of violation of EIA notification, EC/EP Act against iron ore/manganese ore lessees.

“…Copies of complaints filed in the judicial courts should be sent to Dr P K Prusty, senior scientist, F&E Department by special messenger within next 3 to 4 working days for record,” Forest and Environment secretary R K Sharma wrote to the district collectors.

The details which are required by the state government include name of mines and lessees, whether working/non working, case no., court and date of filing of the case, specific violation with years like production without environmental clearance and others.

The state government’s action is considered as a follow-up action as per the direction of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) based on the recommendation of the Shah Commission.

The ministry, sources said, had asked the state government to initiate action against the mining lessees found violating the environmental and forest Acts and those named in the Shah Commission’s report.

Sources said about 110 mine owners are in dock for violation of EP Act, 1986. The mine lessees are facing prosecution for raising mineral beyond the approved quantity and also for continuing mining operations without environment clearance.

The state government is empowered to take action against offenders by invoking powers under Section 19 of the Act.

“Under this Act, a district collector is empowered to take cognisance of the offence and initiate legal action,” an official said.