Jajpur: The state Lokayukta has sought reply from the Jajpur Collector over excess mining of black stones than the lease area from Aruha hill under Dharmasala tehsil in this district, a report said.
The Lokayukta has also issued notices to the Dharmasala tehsildar and the lease holder Trinath Jena along with the Collector asking them to file their replies within a period of six weeks.
The excess mining of precious black stones from the hill has resulted in severe revenue loss for the state government. It is alleged that the lease owner is mining black stones from the hill in connivance with police and tehsil officials.
The Lokayukta issued the notice over a petition (1355/2020) filed before it by Sarbeshwar Behura on excess mining of black stones from the hill and subsequent loss of revenue to the state government, December 10, 2020.
The complainant while filing the petition had prayed before the Lokayukta to direct an inquiry into the issue by the state Crime Branch and recovery of the revenue amount.
The matter came to fore after Lokayukta Chairperson Justice Ajit Singh heard the matter and issued notice to the district Collector, Dharmasala tehsildar and leaseholder Trinath Jena asking them to file their reply on the issue within a period of six weeks, January 19.
Earlier, a demand notice of Rs 58.62 crore was served on the leaseholder for illegal mining of black stones from the Dankari hill under this tehsil. Moreover, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had also slapped a penalty of Rs 25 crore on the state government for illegal mining of black stones from Dankari hill.
The petitioner has alleged – if a proper measurement of Aruha hill is undertaken then the area of illegal mining will be more than the actual lease area.
According to the petition, the Dharmasala tehsil office published a notice inviting applications for leasing of Aruha black stone quarry1, September 1, 2017. Accordingly, Trinath Jena was given a five-year lease contract (2017-2018 and 2021-2022) for black stone mining from Aruha hill on the basis of Odisha Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 2016.
The land record says that Aruha hill has 153.630 acre of black stone quarry out of which only three acres were given on lease to Jena. The petitioner has alleged that Jena in connivance with Dharmasala tehsildar and local police illegally extracted black stones from over 100 acre of area of the hill in excess of his lease area.
It is alleged that the district Collector and Dharmasala tehsildar were aware about the illegal mining but did not take any action against the wrongdoer.
Jena termed the charges false stating that he is yet to receive any notice.
Moreover, he said that he is ready for any probe and measurement of the lease area. He said that while he has received lease for only three acre of the hill other leaseholders are illegally mining from the adjoining areas.
When contacted, Dharmasala tehsildar Prasant Samantaray said he is yet to receive any notice from the Lokayukta and will take steps only after receiving the notice.