Jajpur: The unholy nexus between some influential mining companies and local political leaders have allegedly been instrumental in illegal mining of valuable minerals in 16 districts of Odisha, a report said. Sources said that there is a race among the different mafia groups as to who can earn more through such illegal activities. Existing government norms in this regard have gone for a toss.
Jajpur, Bolangir, Bhadrak, Bargarh, Boudh, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Keonjhar, Khurda, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Nuapada are the 16 districts where such illegal mining is rampant with very little action against the miscreants. Sources said that most of the mafia groups have political blessings in these 16 districts.
Penalty to the tune of around Rs 19,86,50,543 was collected in 14 districts of Odisha from FY 2015-16 to FY 2021-22 as various ‘companies’ were found indulging in mining of minor minerals and transportation and sale of the same sans government procedures. A total of Rs 6,10,00,562 as penalty was collected in Balasore district alone. It amounts to about 30.70 per cent of the total collection in Odisha. This proves the rampant illegal mining prevalent in the district.
Illegal mining in Dankari hill in Jajpur district is a good example of indifference of the district administration to curb it. The administration has moved Supreme Court against previous order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) to collect a penalty of Rs 25 crore from lessee.
Similarly, a case pertaining to collecting materials beyond the permitted quantity on Aruha hill of Jajpur district is still sub-judice before Odisha Lokayukta.
At least eight government officials were accused for their involvement in the illegal quarrying of black stones under Dharmasala tehsil, following a probe conducted by the Director of Inquiry, Lokayukta.
“Instead of taking stringent actions against the minor mineral mafias, the administrations concerned have been indirectly supporting them. As a result, the state government is losing revenue worth crores of rupees every year,” opined locals.