Shah Commission to conduct two public hearings

Bhubaneswar: The central government appointed Shah Commission probing into illegal mining activities in different parts of the country, would conduct at least two public hearings during its seven-day visit to Odisha, official sources said today. An eight-member team of the Commission led by its Chairman Justice M B Shah would arrive here on Wednesday for on the spot inquiry into illegal mining activities in the state, they said.

After holding a discussion with government officials on illegal mining activities and steps taken to stop it, the members were scheduled to leave for Keonjhar district on Thursday where illegal activities were high. "The Commission will hold a public hearing in Keonjhar and visit some mines in that district," a senior official at the Steel and Mines department said adding the team would also leave for Koida mining areas in Sundergarh district.

The Commission was also scheduled to conduct a public hearing in the state capital also, the official said. "We have complied with all the queries made by the Commission. The state government will provide all assistance to the Commission`s members during their visit," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told reporters adding the state government has taken a series of steps to check illegal mining activities.

The Commission had earlier sought clarification and information from the state government, sources said adding that the forest and environment department was told to submit report on violation of forest acts. The Shah Commission`s proposed visit was considered significant as the state government had repeatedly refused to hand over the investigation of the illegal mining issue to CBI.