Special cell to monitor illegal ore transportation in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government on Saturday decided to set up a special cell at the Home Department to keep a tab on illegal transportation of minerals within the state and outside besides intensifying physical verification of different working mines.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the State Level Task Force on Mines presided over by Chief Secretary B K Patnaik.

"Besides home secretary, secretary of steel and mines and director of mines will be members of the special cell," director of mines Deepak Mohanty said after the meeting.

Mohanty said the Home department will decide features of the special cell within a week. The cell will be opened in the state as per decision of the joint coordination committee meeting.

"The state level enforcement squad and district level enforcement squad will visit all the working mines at least four times a month," Mohanty said, adding that the meeting also decided to give more power to police personnel to take legal action against the illegal mining activities.

To a question, steel and mines secretary Rajesh Verma said, "The issue relating to penalty on mining companies for over production of ore was also discussed in the meeting. As the hearing of such mining companies were going on, the government would take next course of action soon."

The state government had earlier imposed a penalty of Rs 68,000 crore on 103 mining companies including the state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation for undertaking mineral production beyond the mining plan. While some of the "erring" companies have moved the mining tribunal.