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Nov 06, 2012 at 11:07am IST

Odisha: Notice served to 103 mining firms in connection with Rs 68,000 cr scam

Bhubaneswar: Two days after CNN-IBN exposed how recovery of fines amounting to thousands of crores are due from miners who did excess mining, pressure is building on the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha. Union minister Srikant Jena is now demanding the Chief Minister's resignation.

The Odisha government has been forced to admit that loss to the state due to excess mining amounts to Rs 67,900 crore. Of this the biggest defaulter is Tata to the tune of Rs 32,000 crore. Odisha Mines Secretary Rajesh Verma said, "About 103 mining leases have been issued notices for Rs 67,900 crore under Section 21(5) of MMDR Act. We have issued a showcause, they will present their case and then the course of law will be followed."

CNN-IBN had exposed illegal mining to the tune of Rs 3 lakh crore. Opposition leaders alleged that the real figure is higher as mafias have been looting non-leased mines for decades. Jena said, "The scam is worth almost Rs 4 lakh crore."

Many believe the Odisha government's action is too little too late and the recovery of fines will not stand in court. CNN-IBN had exposed how the Union mines department amended rules just three days after the recovery notices were issued to miners by the state government observing that excess mining does not amount to illegal mining. Odisha Mines Minister RK Singh said, "It's the duty of the IBM to point out these recovery and intimate us, which they did not do. Union mines department also told us that 20 per cent excess mining is ok. But still we went ahead and issued notices."

The Shah commission which is investigating into the mining scam is in Bhubaneswar now. In the last three years, the commission visited Odisha thrice and is likely to submit its report shortly. Many believe that the Odisha government's action is just an eyewash in view of the Shah commission investigation.