The second and final report of justice MB Shah Commission of inquiry into illegal mining in Orissa has strongly recommended the Centre to order a CBI probe against 14 mining leaseholders including Aditya Birla-owned Essel Mining because of the involvement of state and Central government officials in the matter.
“Since there is involvement of officials/officers all the concerned Departments of Central and State Governments and serious flagrant violations committed by the lessee under various Statues, it would be appropriate to refer the matter to the Central agency preferably Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for further investigation,” said the report. The Commission said a CBI probe can bring out the commission and the omissions of the state officials as they knew about the violation of mining and forest laws by miners.
“During the inquiry in the State for 192 leases, it has been observed that almost all the orders, issued by the State Government in the mining matters, have been rejected/stayed/set aside by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India. This has created a mindset indifferent to law and resulted into the large scale illegal mining in the State. In such a situation, it would be advisable that all such orders, which have been issued under Section 30 of the MM(DR) Act, 1957, read with Rule 55 of the MCR, 1960 for Odisha State, should be re-examined by a committee headed by secretary (Mines), Government of India so that MM(DR) Act and Rules can be implemented,” the Commission noted .
It said the CBI inquiry must be started against companies Aditya Birla Group-owned Essel Mining, Serajuddin and Co, Indrani Patnaik, Sarada Mines, Aryan Mining, ML Rungta, Mesco, Kalinga Mining Corporation, Ram Bahadur Thakur, SN Dasmohapatra and four other small miners.
The Commission found that these leaseholders not only mined illegally, they also avoided paying crores of rupees in terms of income and sales tax under invoicing. “It reflects on the poor administration of the state government and disregard with impunity to the law. The implementing and controlling agencies of the state seemed to be either acting in connivance or were helpless and silent spectators,” the Commission said.