New Delhi: The government on Friday constituted a one-man commission of inquiry under retired Supreme Court judge MB Shah to look into illegal mining in the country, a
burning issue which had also rocked Parliament.
"The Government has appointed MB Shah, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India as a one-man Commission of Inquiry with headquarters in Mumbai, to submit a report on Illegal Mining of iron and manganese ore," Mines Secretary S Vijay Kumar told a news agency.
The Commission would submit its report within 18 months from the date of its first sitting, he said.
The magnitude of the problem is such that as many as 42,000 cases of violation were detected in 11-mineral bearing states last year.
The country produced 226 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal, half of which was exported.
Earlier, the Union Cabinet had approved setting up an inquiry commission after several meetings between the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) and the mines ministry.
The government was keen that illegal mining is checked across the country, including Karnataka, where state ministers Karunakar Reddy and Janardhan Reddy, Ministers in the Karnataka government were allegedly found to be involved in illegal mining.
Minies Minister BK Handique had asserted that cracking down on illegal mining was top on his agenda and even preferred CBI probe into the issue. He had however also said
there were not enough legal provisions for central intervention as mining is state subject.
It may be noted that Karnataka had refused permission for a CBI probe. Handique had written to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa four times since November last year extending help of central agencies like CBI to curb illegal mining.
The issue figured prominently in Parliament in monsoon session.
The minister had also said that one of his concerns was whether any money from illegal mining was going to terrorists and the issue was discussed at the PMO.
The central government is in the process of finalising a new legislation for mines which has a separate section that seeks to put an end to illegal mining.
The Commission announced today will probe the nature and extent of illegal mining and trade and transportation of iron ore and manganese ore besides identifying the persons behind it.