Senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra has requested Justice MB Shah Commission to investigate three crucial aspects to get to the root of the multi-crore mining scam in the State.
In a memorandum submitted to the Commission, the Congress leader said it should compare the production figures of the sponge iron plants between 2005 and 2010 and thereafter ascertain the quantity, source, price of raw material and the conversion rate to find the trail of illegal mining and identify the persons involved in it.
Mohapatra said about 50 per cent of the 105 sponge iron plants which mushroomed in the State during the height of the metal market boom in 2005-06, had closed down in the last two years for want of raw material.
Most of these plants, small and medium, were procuring iron ore from illegally mined sources at a low price to sustain their operation. But the sources dried up following investigation into the illegal mining operation in 2010, he said.
Clandestine raising of ore in non-lease area constitutes substantial part of illegal mining operation in the State, Mohapatra said and added that it was mostly going on in reserve forest areas of Joda and Koira sectors.
The State Government has seized thousands of tonnes of iron from these areas in the past two years and many unclaimed ore dumps are still lying in forest and revenue land and railway sidings. He said 77,000 tonnes of unclaimed ore (fines) was seized at Nayagarh railway siding near Mahaparbat and auctioned.
Similarly, 60,000 tonnes of fines were seized at Banspani, 40,000 tonnes at Jurundi and one lakh tonne in Barbil-Bolani area.
Mohapatra claimed that out of a total production from a mine, 30 per cent is fines and the rest sized or lump ore. If the government has seized these unclaimed dumps of fines, then where are the lumps produced along with the fines? he asked.
Besides, the topography of the Joda and Koira sectors has undergone massive change during the last decade. If the images of the land and vegetation on it of a decade back and now are compared, the areas dug up illegally can be accurately ascertained, he said. The government has landsat images which are updated every six months, he said.