Orissa seeks neighbours’ help to check illegal mining

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BHUBANESWAR/RANCHI - Orissa has sought cooperation of neighbouring states to check illegal mining and proposed a joint task force with Jharkhand to combat the practice.

“Illegal mining is going on in all mineral-rich states. All such states should jointly work to prevent it,” Orissa’s Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty told IANS Thursday.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik last month wrote to his Jharkhand counterpart Shibu Soren about forming a joint task force comprising officials of both the states.

“The Jharkhand chief minister has agreed to the proposal. We are going to form a task force very soon,” Mohanty said.

In Ranchi, a senior official said Jharkhand was also a “victim of illegal mining” and was ready to launch a joint operation with Orissa.

“We have sought details of the task force to be constituted to crack down on illegal mining,” Jharkhand’s Mines and Geology secretary N.N. Sinha told IANS.

According to a mines department official, Jharkhand loses more than Rs.300 crore annually due to illegal mining. Iron ore smuggling is rampant in the Kolhan region of the state.

Mohanty said the Orissa government “may also seek the help of Chhattisgarh”.

Ores from the state go to Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

According to government data, Orissa has 97.37 percent of all the chromite in India, 95.1 percent of nickel, 76.67 percent of graphite, 49.74 percent of bauxite, 33.91 percent of iron ore, 28.56 percent of manganese and 27.59 percent of coal.

Investigations into illegal mining in the state by various state and central agencies started after some politicians alleged in July last year that some mines were operating without licences.

Operations in more than 160 mines in the state have been halted since these were found to be working without statutory clearances. At least 100 people have been arrested for their involvement in illegal mining.

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