Odisha mining firms broke laws, SC told

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New Delhi, Oct 18: Around 2131 lakh MT of iron and 24 lakh MT of manganese of a notional value of Rs 17,576 crore was produced without the necessary environmental clearance by mining companies in Odisha during 2000-2011, the Central Empowered Committee told the Supreme Court on Friday. 

In its 178-page report, the SC-appointed committee said that mining operations for iron and manganese in Odisha have been undertaken practically by all the lessees without environmental clearance and/or in excess of the environmental clearances. 

"Between 2000-01 and 2010-11, 2130.988 lakh MT of iron and 24.129 lakh MT of manganese have been produced without environmental clearance/beyond environmental clearance in the mining leases in the state of Odisha," the report said. 

It said that violator companies included PSUs and companies belonging to Tata and Aditya Birla groups. 

"The 14 lessees account for 72.83% and 57.86% respectively of such production of iron ore and manganese," it said."The total notional value of the minerals produced without/in excess of the environmental clearance, at the weighted average price of minerals as published by IBM, adds up to Rs 17,091.24 crore for iron and Rs 484.92 crore for manganese," it said. 

The report said such illegal mining was done with the consent of state authorities and "the senior officers of the state from the chief secretary downwards cannot escape responsibility for such wholesale and brazen violation of the Acts, Rules and guidelines."

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