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Shah panel findings: Railways for CBI probe

The miners used the lower charges to earn about Rs 1,900 crore in six years while exporting the ore too.

New Delhi |
February 1, 2014 5:13:44 am

The Indian Railways has asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe on the findings of Justice MB Shah Commission on illegal mining of iron ore and manganese, according to a Cabinet note.

The move comes in the background of Supreme Court on Monday asking the centre to file the report with the apex court and the Central Empowered Committee against the government plea of keeping it under the wraps.

The Commission had also found that several miners produced false excise certificates to claim lower freight rates from the Railways for transportation of ore, which was actually exported. The railways charge lower rates for domestic transport of ore compared with exports. The miners used the lower charges to earn about Rs 1,900 crore in six years while exporting the ore too. The commission has asked Indian Railways to ask CBI to probe these freight evasions.

“As the findings of this (Shah) inquiry inter alia impinged upon agencies besides Railways, the matter was handed over to the CBI for a detailed investigation,” the Cabinet note cites in the Action Taken Report on the findings of commission. The note also said railway ministry had first detected freight evasion of export-bound ore in 2010-11 and the South Eastern Railway has served 17 demand-cum-show cause notices to alleged violators.

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The note also reveals that the union government and the Orissa government differs on the recommendations of the commission. The report recommended that the iron ore export be capped, if not a total ban is possible. The commission, set up in August 2010, which submitted its report on October 2013, had also recommended for a CBI probe into the illegal mining of iron ore in Joda circle and in other cases for “establishing illegal mining activities, connection or collusion between mine-owners, politician and bureaucrats.” The state has declined the CBI probe.

The state government has informed the Union government that it has decided to cap production of ore in Joda and Koira mining circle at 44 MPTA (million tons per annum) and 13 MPTA for the year 2013-14, as against the Shah commission recommendation of 50-55 MPTA with an increase of 7.5 per cent per annum or equivalent to the growth of steel and sponge iron industry.
However, the Centre disagreed with the state on the issue of capping the production and wanted a study by “an institute of repute”.

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First published on: 01-02-2014 at 05:13:44 am
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