New Delhi: More than 35,000 cases of illegal
mining were recorded across the country with evidences of
"organised criminal nexus" in some cases, the government said Monday.
"The government has received reports of illegal mining in
the country...in some particular instances of illegal mining
in Jharkhand, evidence of organised criminal nexus has been
established," Mines Minister BK Handique informed Rajya Sabha.
In the first half of the calendar year, 35,136 cases of
illegal mining were recorded by 17 states whereas 41,578 and
43,560 cases were recorded in 2009 and 2008, respectively.
Of the cases registered this year, a maximum of 13,633
cases were recorded in Maharashtra, followed by 7,980 in
Andhra Pradesh, 2864 in MP and 1,996 in Karnataka, he said.
Cases where criminal nexus has been established, state
governments have been asked to take "stringent action",
Handique informed the Upper House.
Rampant illegal mining especially of iron ore of late has
become a burning issue and the government on November 19
constituted a one-man commission of inquiry under retired
Supreme Court judge MB Shah to look into it and submit a
report within 18 months.
The Union Cabinet had approved setting up an inquiry
commission after several meetings took place between the Prime
Minister`s Office (PMO) and the mines ministry.
The issue was also raised during monsoon session of
Parliament particularly in context of Karnataka.
The government is keen that illegal mining is checked
across the country, including Karnataka, where the BJP
government had banned export of iron ore to check it after the
same became a hot issue with the opposition targeting three
ministers-cum-mining magnates, including state ministers
Karunakar Reddy and Janardhan Reddy.
Mines Minister B K Handique had asserted that cracking
down on illegal mining was on the top on his agenda and even
preferred a CBI probe into the issue. He had, however, also
said there were not enough legal provisions for central
intervention as mining is a 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 2009 extending help
of central agencies like CBI to curb illegal mining.
The country produces over 220 million tonnes of iron ore,
half of which is exported.
Meanwhile, the central government is in the process of
finalising a new legislation for mines - Mines and Mineral
Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, which has a separate
section that seeks to put an end to illegal mining.