The Orissa government recently amended the mining theft rules,levying a charge of Re 1 for each tonne of mineral extracted by them as user fee.
Amending the Orissa Mineral Prevention of Theft,Smuggling and Illegal Mining and Regulation of Possession,Storage,Trading and Transportation Rules 2007,the state steel and mines department said that the miner at the time of issue of e-permit would deposit the fee. The fee would be used for payment of remuneration to security guards and other personnel manning the checkgates,installation of CCTV cameras,high mast lights,maintenance of information technology hardware and software installed in the offices of mining department. The CCTV cameras would keep an eye on correct weighing of minerals at weighbridges.
For over a month,the state steel and mines department has been cracking down on several miners,deciding to cancel the leases of the mines that were renewed before December 20,1999 without prior approval of Centre. While it has clearly said that no new mining leases for iron ore,manganese,bauxite and chromite would be given to private miners,the department has brought out a notification making it clear that second and subsequent renewal of existing mining lease is no longer a matter of right.
Now with Justice M B Shah Commission inquiring into the illegal mining in Orissa,the department is sitting on the renewal of over 200 pending mining lease applications. The Shah panel which checked records of 81 leases during its recent visit to Orissa,will visit the state in November.
The steel and mines department has also decided to cancel all applications for renewal of leases made between 1987 and 1994. The department has so far identified 19 mining leases of which nine were under held by private miners with the remaining 10 belong to Steel Authority of India Ltd and Orissa Mining Corporation,both PSUs.