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CEC gets four more weeks to file report on illegal mining

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The Supreme Court has extended the deadline for central empowered committee (CEC) to submit the report on status of illegal mining in Odisha by a month.

The CEC was scheduled to submit the report to the apex court on September 15, but had sought more time to meet this obligation due to delay in compiling the report.

In its report, the CEC is supposed to mention the views of mines lease holders, officials of different state government departments and also findings of M B Shah Commission, which has already filed its report on the illegal mining in Odisha.

Due to delay in compiling all these information, the CEC had requested the top court to extend the deadline for submission of its report by three weeks.

But keeping in view the coming Durga Puja holidays, the court has extended the deadline by a month.

“It seems the report will now be submitted after October 13,” said Manas Mohapatra, an advocate for mines lease holders.

The CEC received the complete report on the status of mining in Odisha from the state government only last week. It had asked the state government to provide information listed in 26 queries.

In July this year, during their field visit to mining areas in Odisha, a team of CEC members had found major discrepancies in data showed by mines leaseholders and state government regarding lease boundary and mineral extraction.

To clear the confusion, the CEC members had asked for more data from state pollution control board, forest department, vigilance wing of the police and steel and mines department about mines lease renewal, illegal mining, extension of lease boundary, encroachment of government land, mining in forest areas and excess extraction of ore.

It had also asked the miners to present their data before the government for rectification.

In the first week of August, the state government submitted its data and records after discussion with mine owners. Later, the CEC conducted a meeting of the miners at Delhi between August 5 and 15 and found out that there was still discrepancies in government records.

The CEC then asked the state government to sit with the miners once again and send rectified data about mineral extraction and other details.

After data reconciliation, the state government sent the revised data last week to help CEC prepare a complete report about status of illegal mining in Odisha.

In April this year, the CEC was instructed by the Supreme Court to submit a report on the status of illegal mining in Odisha while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL). In its petition, civil society organisation Common Cause had appealed the top court to ban mining in Odisha after leaked reports of Shah Commission of enquiry suggested all modes of illegal mining taking place in the state between 2003 and 2009.

It had also demanded a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), based on recommendation by the Shah Commission. In its second report, the enquiry commission had recommended CBI probe against 14 mining firms in the state.

Business Standard

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