The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), has put the Odisha Government in the dock in its final report on illegal mining before the apex court. The CEC confirmed the nexus between senior government officials and miners in the multi-crore mining scam, but did not order a CBI probe, which came as a big surprise.
While the state government has found itself in a tight spot, it is being speculated that the centre is also trying shield the political class by not ordering a CBI probe. According to reports in some local media, back-door talks are going on between the BJD and BJP for a long time to avert this.
“The senior officers of the State Government from the Chief Secretary downwards cannot escape responsibility for such wholesale and brazen violation of the Acts, Rules and guidelines and the directions of this Hon’ble Court and also points towards lax governance,” said the CEC report.
The CEC report confirmed that the state government violated the norms by allowing production of iron ore and manganese without environment clearance. In some cases, the production continued even after the expiry of clearance period.
During 2000-01 and 2010-11 period, 2,130.988 lakh MT of iron and 24.129 lakh MT of manganese have been produced in Odisha by flouting the environmental norms. Similarly, each of the 14 mining lessees produced more than 50 lakh MT of iron and manganese by violating the environment norms during the same period.
The CEC, has however admitted that the Odisha Government has taken steps from 2011-12 onwards, but sought tough action against the guilty and recovery of 30% of the notional value of the iron and manganese produced by each of the lessees, which violated the norms.