Mining scam: Shah panel ends hearing, may not meet deadline
Justice M B Shah on Monday admitted that the commission probing the mining scam in the State may find it difficult to meet its July deadline. ‘’It is very difficult to say in the present day situation if we will be able to meet the deadline; the reasons being repeated hearings and disputed facts which require re-consideration,’’ Justice Shah told mediapersons after wrapping up the proceedings here which will now shift to Ahmedabad.
The commission has already asked the State Government to form a panel to carry out physical verification of the mines and their boundaries. There are about 40 mines to be verified and on-the-spot verification takes some time. Field verification of a large area takes about five to six days and continuous monitoring, he added.
After the verification, Justice Shah said, the commission will suggest appropriate measures to the Centre and actions to be taken. ‘’We have progressed to a large extent and have heard almost all lessees with regard to the findings that we have arrived at on the basis of facts and figures provided by the State Government. Now we have to decide in which way we can submit the report to the Centre,” he added. He said exhaustive hearing has been carried out and law points on forest areas, environment clearance and encroachment were also heard.
Justice Shah was unwilling to get drawn into any comparisons between the mining scams in Goa and Karnataka and was categorical in his view that Odisha Government has taken corrective steps after the appointment of the commission. “If the steps meet the requirement or not, we will decide,” he said.
The Government has admitted lapses by the bureaucracy and prosecution as well as proceedings have been initiated, he added. “It is very difficult to say that the State Government has not taken steps,” he said.
Justice Shah also ruled out appointment of any independent agency for probe saying that the Centre will decide what action is to be taken.
Justice Shah also said there has, so far, no evidence before the panel about political patronage. “Let them give, we have no objection. Unless somebody says something __ either on affidavit or orally __ we cannot verify,” he said.