State slams IBM on illegal mining

Bhubaneswar: Alleging inaction by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) in dealing with illegal mining, the State government on Wednesday said it would soon bring the matter to the notice of the Union Mines Ministry. "I will write a letter to the secretary of the mines ministry soon. IBM is not providing support to the state government in taking action against errant mine operators," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told reporters here.

IBM regional office chief, T K Rath told PTI when contacted said that guidelines set by its headquarters were being followed. "Since we are not supposed to speak to media, I cannot say more." Though the state`s steel and mines department has written several letters, including the latest three weeks ago, to the IBM seeking information on excess mining by some lessees, the authorities were yet to respond, the chief secretary said.

While the state government`s task force had identified that 104 lessees for excess ore extraction from mines in the last 10 years, IBM had suspended the mining license of only 42 mines. "The state government has no power to suspend mines for excess production, while IBM can take action against them under the provision of the Mineral Conservation and Development Rule (MCDR), 1988," a senior officer in steel and mines department said.

IBM had also did not respond to the state government`s queries on the exact volume of excess mineral production by erring mines, which were taking advantage of the situation, he said. Sources said that IBM identified violation under different sections of MCDR, 1988 in 580 mines from 2000-01 to 2005-06 in the state.

IBM suspended one each mine in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 and detected violation under MCDR in 130, 114 and 54 mines respectively. "Subsequently, the IBM revoked suspension order on three mines," a senior official of the steel and mines said.When issues relating to mining scam hit headlines in 2009 and 2010, IBM suspended operation in 10 and 29 mines respectively while it detected violation in 38 mines.