Vigilance sleuths find proof of illegal mining in Orissa


Bhubaneswar : A probe by the vigilance department into an alleged multi-crore mining scam in Orissa’s Keonjhar district has found evidence of illegal mining in the area, with the complicity of several government officials.

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Vigilance Department Director Anup Kumar Patnaik told IANS that the government had asked them to find out if illegal mining was going on, who were involved, and to take action against them.

He said the a team of 20 to 25 vigilance officers conducting the inquiry had examined papers, gone to the offices of mining and forest departments, and inspected the spots in the presence of officials of the mining, forest and sale tax department.

“We found evidence of illegal mining. The area where the mining was going on was not leased out to anybody. The local officials of the forest and mining department knew that the illegal mining was going on but they did not take any step to stop it,” Patnaik said.

He said it appeared the mining was done in recent past and huge amount of minerals taken out.

“We are now trying to find out the exact amount of ore lifted and who are the people responsible for this illegal acts,” he said.

However, Patnaik said it will take some time, and they have given a six-page preliminary report to the government Friday.

The vigilance department was asked to investigate last month after opposition parties alleged that large scale illegal mining was going on in the mineral rich Keonjhar district is going on in over 36 hectares area.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader K.V. Singhdeo had moved an adjournment motion in the assembly July 10 alleging that a private company has been mining manganese in the region.

Although state Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty described the allegation as baseless, the government a day later ordered the vigilance probe, after Singhdeo produced documentary evidences of the illegal mining.