Mineral theft and smuggling continues in Keonjhar District inspite of prevention laws

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Report by Malaya Mohapatra; Kendujhar: After the inquiry into illegal mining scam in 2009, many mines in keonjhar district operating without statutory clearances were closed including several iron crushers , sponge iron units. Hence the non leased mining areas in reserve forest and closed mining leases were left abandoned since then. The govt was busy with the collection of heavy revenue income from mines in terms of penalty and other fines but failed to develop a full proof system to check illegal smuggling or mining theft in the area.

Recently, the barbil police arrested a gang of six miscreants while they were smuggling 26 metric ton of iron ore worth 5 lakh rupees by a truck near Kasia village. Similarly the Rugudi Police also seized two trucks carrying theft iron ore of 30 metric ton worth more than 6 lakhs this week. Three thieves were arrested in this case. Regularly vehicles carrying illegal manganese and iron are seized by police and forest staffs and this shows that mineral smuggling has not stopped in the area. The present system only tracks mineral transportation from operating mines through i3MS and GPS. But mineral theft and smuggling from the abandoned mines, crushers and non leased forest areas continue by mining mafias to neighboring Jharkhand in many unguarded village and forest roads on the state boarder inspite of laws for prevention of mineral theft. Since the lease period for most mines is about to expire, mineral production and transportation is in full swing using all means. With the hike in price of iron and manganese, the smugglers find it profitable to use four wheelers to transport minerals safely in small quantities without being noticed. Even transport through railways also creates scope for transport of excess materials to destinations by manipulating the weight in wagons. Neither the Shah Commission nor the Govt agencies have probed into the massive illegal mining outside lease areas and transport of theft minerals through railways. The iron and steel industries are the only end users of these minerals. Hence a backward verification of minerals quantity purchased by iron and steel industries from mines and exporters including quantity of minerals transported through road, rail and ship will unearth huge scams in the ongoing illegal mineral trade, a mining expert remarked.

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