Joda: The price of iron ore in the international market has been on the rise and so is its illegal mining and transportation. In the mining areas of Joda in Keonjhar district such illegal activities are rampant.
The fact that over 50 trucks carrying iron ore mined illegally have been seized so far jointly by the police and Forest department in June this year alone has laid bare the volume of illegal iron ore transported from the region. All these trucks were seized from the areas close to areas that were leased for mining. With the seizure, it came to the fore that the transportation of iron ore was being carried out without approval of the Directorate of Mines, resulting in revenue losses of lakhs of rupees.
When asked, senior joint director, the Directorate of Mines, Bhubaneswar, Umesh Chandra Jena said the government has taken various steps such as i3MS and forming enforcement squads at the state level. Henceforth, more stringent steps would be taken to check illegal transportation of iron ores.
According to a source, the old lease holders of mines had excavated iron ores in excess of the permitted level and are unable to show the volume mined in their records. As of now, these lease holders are showing the volume of mined ores as under the permitted limits and resorting to various irregularities to get approval from the concerned department.
Going a step ahead, one mining company is even transporting the iron ores mixed with earth known as run of mine (ROM) to its plant and using it for own purposes after processing. As per the law, if processed iron ores are transported, the government earns revenue. But in this particular case, the government is losing that revenue.
At the same time, since minerals are being transported to their own plants, many trips are allegedly being done with a single challan. Some miners are transporting the ores without approval only to avoid paying the auction premium.
In addition, pilferage of lakhs of tons of seized and unclaimed iron ores heaped at railway sidings under the Joda mining circle is also rampant as no there is none to look after these ores.
It is also alleged that some lease holders are showing that the ores mined in their mines are of poor quality. “How is it possible that the mines that once used to produce iron ores of 62 % Fe quality are now producing 58% Fe quality? Only a high level enquiry can reveal the lease holders’ designs and help the government to earn revenues from the iron ores mined there,” observed a section of former lease holders on the condition of anonymity.
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