Shah commission members arrive to probe mining scam

Bhubaneswar: In an effort to complete its probe into the alleged mining scam in Odisha, a team of Justice M B Shah Commission arrived here today on a 12-day visit during which it will conduct field inquiries at mines in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts.

The six-member team led by U V Singh, Principal Conservator of Forest in Karnataka, would further investigate alleged mining illegalities during their visit to Odisha till November 11, official sources said.

"Our team is going to make field visits to Koira mining circle in Sundargarh district and Barbil mining belt in Keonjhar as part of the investigation," team leader Singh told reporters soon after arrival here.

The Commission had made a field visit to Joda mining belt in Keonjhar district during its first tour to the state last year, he said, adding that various documents and files would be examined by the panel members from November 3.

Stating that the team would scrutinise records and files of 99 mining leases, a senior state government official said earlier this month the team of the panel had visited the state from October 3 to 11 and vetted volumes of documents.

During its second visit, the commission had also raised certain questions on the mining activities within 10 kms radius of the Similipal Biosphere, sources said.

The Justice M B Shah Commission, appointed by the Central government in November 2010, is investigating into allegations of illegal mining in several mineral rich states including Odisha.

The commission had first visited the state in December of 2011.

The commission has been looking into different aspects like violation under forest, environment (air and water), wildlife, mines and other related laws.