Jharkhand miners illegally mined ore worthy over Rs14,500 crore: Shah panel

Iron and manganese ore miners in Jharkhand have illegally mined ore worth at least Rs14,403 crore and Rs138 crore, respectively, as per estimates based on environmental violations alone, the Justice M B Shah Commission on illegal mining has found.

The commission, set up by the UPA government, said the value would be higher if estimated on the basis of mines operating without consent, production without mining plan, and forest clearance are taken into consideration.

The Shah Commission in its report had exposed a Rs35,000-crore mining scam in the country, which was earlier counted as irregular mining instead of illegal mining.

According to the commission, mining companies in Jharkhand continued to mine the areas leased to them despite a delay in renewal of the mining licence by the state government and without obtaining fresh green clearances.

The commission found illegal production in 26 iron and manganese ore leases, including iron ore mines leases to Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India Ltd, Rungta Mines, Usha Martin, Rameshwar Jute Mills, and Singhbhum Minerals Co.

The commission also faulted the Indian Bureau of Mines for approving schemes to increase production irrationally in certain mining clusters.

The commission had submitted its first report on illegal mining in Jharkhand on 26 November 2013.

The then government had asked the stakeholders, including the state government and the companies, to send their comments by 26 December 2013.

The commission's two earlier reports on mining in Odisha and Goa had faced delays as the centre took its own time to study the findings. The centre also had informed the Supreme Court in January that it cannot share the commission's findings on the illegal mining in Jharkhand and Odisha as the report had to be presented to Parliament first.

The report now needs a cabinet nod before it can be tabled in Parliament.