Even as the Justice MB Saha Commission is investigating the illegal mining activities, the Ministry of Coal has asked the State Government to submit a report on the action taken to curb illegal mining and theft of minerals in the State.
Expressing concern over the low rate of conviction in cases relating illegal mining and theft of coal, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal and Steel had recommended to the Centre in 2011 to direct the coal-bearing states to prepare an action plan for socio-economic development programmes in areas having coal deposits to prevent theft of the natural resources. “Except for Jharkhand, no major study has been undertaken by any coal producing state or coal companies to ascertain the extent of loss of money due to the illegal mining,” the committee said and recommended similar studies by other coal-bearing states.
Stating that there is lack of coordination between the Centre, state governments and coal companies in addressing the issue, the committee recommend to the coal-bearing states to frame rules and set up inter-state joint intelligence and task force to combat the problem of illegal mining and transportation of coal.
The Ministry of Coal had written to all the coal-bearing states, including Odisha, to submit their action taken reports as per the recommendations of the parliamentary committee. The issue was again raised by the Estimates Committee of the Lok Sabha.
In a letter to Chief Secretary BK Patnaik, Union Coal Secretary SK Srivastava has requested him to submit the action taken report soon.
The Steel and Mines Department has asked the collectors of Angul, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh to submit a compliance report and the fresh action taken, if any, to the State Government.