Jajpur: Days after the topic of illegal and excess mining of minor minerals at various stone quarries in Dharmasala tehsil of Jajpur district was raised in the state Assembly, steps have been initiated to prevent the plundering. Questions were raised in the Assembly over the loot of minerals in violation of various provisions of the Odisha Minor Minerals Concession Rules-2016 and the Odisha Minor Minerals Concession Rules (Amended)-2017 and 2018. Sources said that a decision has been taken to carry out satellite mapping of the mines that have been leased out. Since the announcement, the leaseholders have turned panicky.
Sources informed that the Dharmasala tehsildar had floated a tender June 2 for satellite mapping of the mines where huge quantities of black stone have been plundered over the years. A company by the name of ‘My World Geology’, bagged the tender for satellite mapping. Mines of 20 lease holders who have carried out mining between 2015 and 2017 will be measured through satellite, officials said. The administration has already directed recovery of penalties from five errant lease holders. However, investigations into the extent of the loot have allegedly been tampered with.
As result, the state exchequer has lost over Rs 700 crore as authorities have failed to calculate the exact measure of extra mining, sources said. There are several cases relating to illegal stone mining, excess mining, mineral transportation and sales without transits in Jajpur district. Many such cases are subjudice at the Orissa High Court, Lokyukta and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), officials informed. A few months ago, mines of four lease holders were mapped through satellite. Based on the report, and following a direction from the district collector, the tehsildar served demand notices to them for recovery of fines worth Rs 105.87 crore.
Sources said that Jyotsna Jena, Ranjan Jena, Sribas Jena, Rashmiranjan Panda and Mahendra Swain had leased out four quarries in Dankari hills in 2017-18 for five years. However, it was alleged that they resorted to excess stone mining. The Orissa High Court had heard a related case on this development and issued an order for investigation. Following a directive from the Jajpur district collector, the lease deeds of the five were canceled in 2019.
However, Ranjan, one of the leaseholders, appealed against the verdict to another bench of the high court and got his rights to mining restored and resumed operations under a new plan. A satellite investigation based on the first plan and the new one was again carried out. It was found that excess excavation had been carried out and authorities imposed a penalty of Rs 23.32 crore on Ranjan. However, sources pointed out that penalty amount should have been over Rs 100 crore keeping in mind the excess mining that had been done.
Sources also informed that illegal and excess mining are being carried out at places like Baratali, Pakhara, Muraripur, Jogada, Batijanga, Aruha and Nanapur where explosives are used to disintegrate stones. This has caused crack in houses in the peripheral villages. Dharmasala tehsildar Swagat Das said that satellite investigation of illegal and excess mining will be done and the violators will be penalised.