Shah Commission begins mining scam probe

Bhubaneswar: A six-member team of Justice M B Shah Commission today began its second phase investigation into alleged irregularities in the mining sector of Odisha by scrutinising certain official documents.

“We have sought files and records of 192 iron ore and manganese mines in Odisha. To begin with, the team discussed with state government officials on certain issued relating to the mining scam,” said U V Singh, the team leader and Principal Conservator of Forest in Karnataka.

Stating that the team would like to go deep into the mining activities in the state, Singh did not rule out the team visiting certain mines area if required during the investigation. The six-member team was likely to stay in the state till October 11, he said.

The Central government appointed commission which had been probing into mining scam in different states, had visited the state in December last year. Justice Shah, however, did not become part of the team this time.While Singh asked Odisha government to submit records of 192 mines, the director of mines Deepak Mohanty said that there was confusion over the number of mines.

“In fact, we were earlier told to arrange files of 142 mines,” Mohanty said.Besides steel and mines, the commission had also sought files from forest and environment, revenue, commerce, commercial tax, IBM, regional office of the MoEF and Odisha State Pollution Control Board.

The commission has also asked the state government to ensure that officials of Odisha Mining Corporation, Odisha Mineral Development Corporation and some private mining leasees meet the team members.