Task force bid to keep tab on mining mafia

Bhubaneswar: With the State government all set to open more mines for operation following amendment of the MMDR Act, a task force on mines today resolved to tighten the noose around mining mafia and illegal transport operators, an official said.

“The task force, headed by chief secretary G.C. Pati, has recommended steps including formation of a sub-committee to fix limit on the quantity of minerals to be explored and transported from Joda and Koida sectors during a particular period,” said Mines director Deepak Mohanty after a meeting of the task force.

The sub-committee, to be set up in 20 days, will have experts from departments of Forest and Environment, Steel and Mines, State Pollution Control Board, directors of Mines and Environment. The sub-committee will decide how much minerals need to be explored and transported from a particular area.

Though the government had last year capped mining and transportation of iron ore and manganese from Joda mining circle at 44 mt, actually only 17.2 mt of minerals could be mined and transported due to different reasons. Similarly, only 10.5 mt of iron ore could be mined from Koida mining circle against the capping limit of 13 mt, Mohanty said.

This time, however, the State government feels that the mineral production needs to be expedited after implementation of the new MMDR Act.

Stating that the chief secretary directed officials to keep a tab on the activities of mafia, mainly those engaged in transportation, Mohanty said stringent action would be taken against the vehicles operating on fake registration numbers.

“Such fake registration bearing vehicles will be detected and their permit cancelled immediately,” Pati in a message told the district collectors and SPs of mineral-bearing districts.

Though the Mines department earlier had three enforcement squads to keep vigil on the illegal mining across the State, the task force decided to add another such squad to further ensure no illegal mining in the State.