Almost all the mining companies that appeared before the Justice Shah Commission on Thursday complained of inaccuracy of DGPS map to find out boundary of the mines’ areas.
The commission, which had taken note of it on the first day of the hearing on Wednesday, said a fresh field survey for rectification of the maps may be taken up at the cost of the lessees. As the Indian Bureau of Mines claims that excess production of minerals beyond approved plan is not illegal but only an irregularity under provision of MMDR Act, the commission sought to know why central agency failed to check such irregularity.
The commission further sought to know how mining continued without statutory forest and environment clearances for several years after enforcement of Forest Conservation Act in 1980. The high profile lawyers engaged by mining companies submitted before the commission that their clients were never asked for compliance of forest and environmental clearances by the State Government till 2004. However, the commission did not buy their arguments saying ignorance of different statutory laws is no excuse.
Commenting that illegal mining exist in the State, Justice Shah said, “Unless there is illegal mining, there is no inquiry.” Four mining leases of Mayurbhanj, which were closed down due to violation of Wild Life Act and forest laws, also represented before the commission.
When advocates representing mining companies pointed out that proceedings are on at Central Government level to clarify and modify engagement of contractors in mines under Rule-37 of Mining Concession Rules, the commission advised those willing to present their deposition regarding violation of MC Rule to appear during the special hearing on March 16 in Ahmedabad.
East Zone Mines Owners Association, FEMI on behalf of all lessees, the State Government and the Odisha Mining Corporation will appear before the commission on Friday. The commission has extended its sitting till March 2 to hear all lessees.