The Centre has defended before the Supreme Court its decision to wind up the Justice MB Shah Commission,which was set up to inquire into illegal mining activities across several states.
The government,in an affidavit,has pointed out that not only was the original tenure of the panel been extended from 18 to 33 months,the government was also taking appropriate follow-up actions on the basis of commissions findings.
An interim report on preliminary inquiry in the states of Andhra Pradesh,Maharashtra,Goa has spelt out the broad contours of the violations,illegalities statutory violations,related to renewals,excess production,amalgamation,encroachment and violation of other statutory provisions relating to environment,forest,wildlife,air,water,pollution etc. Based on the interim report,necessary action has already been taken or being by taken by the ministry of mines, the governments affidavit said.
The panel under Justice Shah,a former Supreme Court judge,was set up on November 22,2010 to inquire into alleged large scale illegal mining of iron and manganese ores in the country. It had published several volumes of reports since its first sitting on January 16,2011.
An application was filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Goa Foundation,an NGO,and a social activist,challenging the governments decision not extend its tenure from October 16,this year. Seeking another extension by one year,the petitioners claimed that the Centres decision came just before the Commission could complete its probe into alleged illegal mining in Chhattisgarh,Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
In response to the charges,the mines ministry said that the apex court has done a comprehensive investigation with respect of illegal mining of iron ore in Karnataka.
As for Goa,Jharkhand,Orissa,the panel had submitted different volumes of reports,it said. The panel was given three months extension to complete the inquiry into Jharkhand. With regard to Chhattisgarh,the ministry claimed that 98 per cent of mining was done by public sector undertakings only.
The panels report on mining in Goa had forced the envionment ministry in September to suspend 139 environment clearances granted for 182 mining leases there,the plea claimed.