New Delhi: Illegal mining activities witnessed a sharp spike in the country during 2010, with 82,330 cases detected by law enforcement agencies during the
year, almost double the 41,578 cases unearthed in 2009, Parliament was informed.
The rate of illegal mining appears to be accelerating, as government agencies detected as many as 24,405 cases in the first three months (January-March) of 2011, almost 30 percent the number of such activities seen in the whole of 2010, Mines Minister Dinsha Patel said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
In his reply, Patel said that in 2010, the highest number of illegal mining cases were reported in Maharashtra, at 34,384, which accounted for about 41.64 percent of the cases registered across the nation during the year.
The number of cases detected in Maharashtra in 2010 was 4.14 times the number seen in 2009, when 8,270 cases were reported.
However, he did not specify the minerals for which large-scale illegal mining activities were taking place.
Illegal mining activities in Karnataka, which is under the Supreme Court scanner, have risen by 2.93 times, with 4,949 cases reported in 2010, as against 1,687 such incidents in 2009.
Similarly, other mineral-rich states like Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have also reported a huge rise in illegal mining cases, reporting 17,882 and 2,942 cases, respectively, in 2010. These are about 1.54 times and 2.72 times higher than
the 2009 figures for the respective states.
The above four states accounted for almost 73 percent of the illegal mining cases lodged in 2010, at 60,057, data provided in Patel`s reply shows.
It further said that illegal mining activities have been continuously rising and between January and March this year, with 10,349 cases detected in Maharashtra alone, about 30 percent of the total number of cases reported in 2010.
Moreover, Karnataka reported 1,263 illegal mining cases between January and March this year, 25 percent of the 2010 figure for the state.
Similar stories have been reported in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where 4,594 and 923 illegal mining cases were detected in the first three months of 2011.
However, illegal mining in Orissa, another mineral-rich state, is on the decline, as it reported only 461 such unlawful incidences in 2010, over 39 percent less than the
number of cases reported in the previous year.
The Mines Minister said in his reply to the Rajya Sabha that an inquiry commission, headed by Justice MB Shah, was appointed last year to inquire into the large-scale illegal mining of iron ore and manganese ore and the commission is yet to submit its final report.
He added that the law enforcement agencies have realised fines totalling over Rs 600 crore on illegal mining activities.
According to the reply, India produces as many as 87 minerals, including 4 fuel minerals, 10 metallic minerals, 47 non-metallic minerals, three atomic minerals and 23 minor minerals (including building and other materials).
It also said the total value of mineral production in the country (excluding atomic minerals) was estimated at Rs 1,98,380.33 crore in 2010-11, a growth of 10.59 percent vis-a-vis the previous year.
However, no official estimates are available on the losses caused to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the country, either at the Centre or state level.