Joda: More irregularities in the mining sector under Joda mining circle of Keonjhar have come out in the open through RTI queries.
According to a report, Jadumani Seth, an RTI activist from Bargarh district, had sought information from the steel and mines department about mine lease holders and the mining in the state.
Public relations officer of the steel and mines department, B Sahu in his letter-9252, dated November 9, 2017, stated that after amendment to the Mines and Mineral Development Regulation Act (MMDR Act)-2015, 11 lease holders have been granted lease for mining graphite, tin, gem stones and bauxite.
Significantly, 212 lease holders have been served demand notice for carrying out excessive mining under clause-21 (5) of the MMDR Act-1957.
Among them, 55 mines in Koida mining circle; 72 (the highest) in Joda mining circle; eight in Keonjhar mining circle; five in Sambalpur mining circle; 23 in Rourkela mining circle; seven in Koraput mining circle; 14 in Jajpur Rioad mining circle; 11 in Baripada mining circle; 10 in Cuttack mining circle; three in Bhawanipatna mining circle; two each in Talcher and Bolangir mining circles.
However the department evaded a query seeking to know what steps the state government has taken on the mine lease in Baitarani and Brahmani rivers following a directive from the MoEF. Mines producing coal, bauxite, manganese, chromites and iron were included in them.
After the MMDR Amendment Act-2015, six mines had been leased out over last two years. Those included 66 ha of iron mine of Rudrasen Sidhu at Bhanjapali in Koida; 874 ha of iron mine of Nilachal Ispat Nigam at Mithrida in Sundargarh; 16 ha of iron mine of MS National Enterprises at Oraghat in Sundarghat; 19 ha of iron mine and manganese mine of Prakash Industries at Sirka Gutu in Keonjhar; 36 ha of iron mine of Sri Metallic’s at Khandabandh and Baitarani reserve forest in Keonjhar and 24 ha of iron mine of KC Pradhan at Nayagad in Keonjhar.
The RTI query also revealed that the state government had served show-cause notices on eight mine owners – Indrani Patnaik, RP Sao, KJS Ahluwalia, Mala Roy and Sons, Sharada Mines, Mid-East Steel Company (MESCO), Kabita Agrawal and Arya Mining and Trading Corporation Pvt Ltd for violating rule-37 of the Mineral Concession Rule-1960.
Except for Kabita Agrawal and Arya Mining and Trading Corporation Pvt Ltd, the six other mine owners had appealed to the Central government against show cause notices and sought a review. Details of the violations made by the six mine lease holders were out by the Central government in 2013 and 2014.
As for the utilisation of the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) fund, it was stated in the reply to the RTI query that mine lease holders are contributing to the DMF while the DMF trust headed by the collector has been utilising the fund in the district. The collector has kept the details of the DMF fund utilisation over last two years, it said.