Illegal quarrying goes on as probe makes no headway

Jajpur: With a joint probe by the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Crime Branch, revenue and mines officials making no headway, illegal stone quarrying from the hills of this district goes on unabated in flagrant violation of norms, a report said.
Such wanton mining without the approval of revenue and forest departments has resulted in the death of 11 labourers in a year. While labourers working in hazardous condition without safety gear are getting killed at regular intervals, the government is losing revenue.

Dharmasala tehsil alone has over 500 illegal stone quarries from which the state government is annually losing revenue of `12 crore.  The illegal mining and mushrooming of crusher units has turned into a cottage industry in the district with an increase in road construction and highway expansion projects in the state.  

The report said illegal mining goes on unabated even in reserve forests with tacit support from some unscrupulous revenue and police officials. This only emboldens the quarry owners to continue with their illegal activities. Also, in case of worker casualties, the police instead of taking action against quarry owners try to cover up such incidents, the report said. Sources said Jabara hill, which is the hub of illegal mining, is 7 km away from Chandikhole on National Highway-53. Five labourers have died on this hill while working in a stone quarry over a year.  The EOW conducted a raid on the hill after Orissa Post published several reports on illegal stone mining.

Later, the EOW sleuths along with revenue and mines officials conducted a measurement of the hill area where excavation has taken place for stone mining April 4, 2016. The team found out that two places on the hill have been excavated for mining of 2347 cubic metre of black granite stones. The price of the excavated stone was estimated at `9, 38,800 while the government lost revenue of `2,32,353. However, the revenue department never took any step to recover the amount from the illegal miners. None of the 500-odd illegal quarries in Dharmasala tehsil is adhering to siding norms as the district administration has never conducted a probe in this regard. The administration is supposed submit the probe report to the state government once in three months.

Phone calls to Dharmasala tehsildar Prabhas Kumar Behura to get his views on the report went unanswered.

Sub-collector Narayan Chandra Dhal laid emphasis on formation of a special squad to put curbs on illegal stone mining.  

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