Orissa’s huge mining sector under RTI scanner


Bhubaneswar : The Orissa State Information Commission wants more transparency in mining sector in the state, in view of allegations of rampant irregularities and corruption.

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The commission has directed the government to display all relevant information on mining on the departmental website after it received several complaints, state Information Commissioner Jagadananada told IANS Thursday.

“Extractive industries have a huge potential to provide extra resources for the development of the state. Therefore, transparency in the mining industries is likely to curb malpractices if any and bring the entire sector under public scrutiny,” he said.

Orissa has 16.92 percent of India’s total mineral reserves, including 97.37 percent bauxite, 95.10 percent nickel ore, 76.67 percent graphite, 49.74 percent bauxite and nearly 40 percent iron ore.

The state was in the limelight recently after a probe found several irregularities in its mining sector, leading the opposition parties to accuse the government of encouraging the scam that allegedly runs into Rs.3 lakh crore.

In two orders this year, one in May and another in July, the commission indicted officials of the state steel and mines department for denying such information and directed the government to display online all such information on the departmental website.

The commission has given the directions in response to an appeal filed by social activist Biswajit Mohanty, who is a chartered accountant.

Mohanty had petitioned the commission after he was denied certified copies of the mining plans and revised mining plans various companies had submitted to the government for March 2003 to March 2009.

Authorities had refused to supply him with copies, saying that the information was exempted from disclosure.

The commission, while overruling the department’s decision, directed the public authorities to furnish the information free of cost within 20 days of receipt of its order.

It also directed the state steel and mines department to ensure disclosure of the information on the department website within six weeks and furnish compliance to the commission.

“Salient features of the mining plans, including production quantities, land details area approval, and mineral related extraction industries, should be part of the public disclosure,” Jagadananada said in his order.

In a similar case filed by social activist Pradip Pradhan, the commission indicted officials of the steel and mines department for not providing information sought under right to information act on time.

Pradhan had complained after he failed get complete information from the state steel and mines department related to trading permission given to companies for mineral in the state since 2005.

He had also sought information about dumping yards, their locations and the agencies that have been given transport permits. He also wanted to know the details of the companies and institutions given captive mines since 2000.