Shah panel visits iron ore mines in Odisha



Keonjhar: A team of Justice MB Shah Commission probing alleged mining scam in Odisha on Thursday made a surprise visit to four iron ore mines in Joda and Koida mining circles in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts today.

The six-member team led by UV Singh, Principal Conservator of Forest in Karnataka, visited KJS Aluwalia mines and R P Sao mines located at Topadihi on the border of Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts.

Although the panel had earlier informed the state government about its plan to visit certain mines for physical verification, it had not revealed names of these mines, a senior mines department official said, adding that the panel verified forest clearance and mining areas of the two mines.

During the visit, the panel verified whether the companies undertook mining in their lease areas or the nearby portions, the official said, adding that the team leader Singh too went on visiting two other iron ore mines in Koida mining circle.

As the head of the commission, Justice Shah had himself visited Joda mining circle in December last.

The panel had earlier received complaints against some mines allegedly violating forest clearance and different mining laws, sources said adding that, Singh refused to divulge details of violation by the mines.

"Everything will be there in the commission's report. Please wait till we finish the probe," Singh told reporters.

Stating that the team will scrutinise records and files of 99 mining leases during its third visit to the state which commenced yesterday, a senior state government official said that earlier this month, the team of the panel had visited the state from October 3 to 11 and vetted volumes of documents.

The commission has been looking into different aspects like violation under forest, environment, wildlife, mines and other related laws.

Meanwhile, Forest and Mines Workers Association, in a memorandum to the commission, demanded permission to operate mines which had stopped operation in view of the investigation.

PTI