Shah panel seeks details from Odisha mining companies

 BHUBANESWAR: The Justice M B Shah Commission inquiring into illegal mining has served notices to some 119 mining companies in Odisha asking them to furnish detailed information on the status of mining leases and minerals excavated among others by March 1. 

The five-member panel is slated to begin its next round of hearing here from Wednesday. This will be the fourth visit of the Shah panel in the last two years. 

The Commission has sought to know from the mines the status of the mines under their possession since the execution of the lease, the quantity of minerals exported and their valuation between 2005 and 2012, quantity of minerals raised and sold in domestic market between 2005 and 2012, status of environment and forest clearances and volume and valuation of minerals raised after deemed renewal of mines. 

The Commission on March 1 is scheduled to hear the grievances of mining companies, who have been accused of violating various mining, forest and environment laws. The state government as well as some mining companies and bodies had earlier urged the commission to hear their version on the issues before the Commission finalises its report. 

The Commission would listen to pleas of at least 186 mines owners and operators, besides examining their records on mineral extraction, exports and trading in domestic markets. Representatives of the Eastern Zone Mining Association (EZMA) will also present its version before the Panel. Federation of Indian Mineral Industry (FIMI) has hired three Supreme Court lawyers, including Abhishek Manu Singhvi, to put forth its case. 

According to Odisha director of mines Deepak Kumar Mohanty, the state government was yet to get any formal notice from the Commission on its requirements with regard to probe activity. 

"Though we have not received any notice from the Commission, we are fully prepared with all documents that the probe body might seek during the course of investigation. We will just abide by the instructions of the Commission and fully cooperate it," Mr Mohanty said. 

Officials of all the concerned departments, including steel and mines, revenue and environment and forest, had been asked to remain prepared to face the Commission as and when required, he added.