After succeeding in cleansing the mammoth illegal mining in the State of Karnataka and Goa, Prashant Bhushan, has filed a fresh PIL, petitioner as Common Cause, against the ongoing loot and plunder of valuable natural resources in the State of Odisha in complete disregard of the environmental norms and the rights of the vulnerable tribal & rural communities. The petition is based on Justice M B Shah Commission of Inquiry, who has given a scathing reports on the unfortunate state of affairs in Odisha that call for immediate compliance of its recommendations.
Over reports of large-scale illegal mining, especially of iron ore, in various parts of the country, the Central Government by a notification dated 22.11.2010 appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice M B Shah. The mandate of the Commission was to inquire and report about illegal mining of iron ore and manganese ore in contravention of the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 or other rules or guidelines issued in this regard.
After its detailed study, the Justice Shah Commission submitted 5 volumes report on the illegal mining of iron ore and manganese ore in the State of Odisha on 01.07.2013 and submitted 3 volumes of the second report on State of Odisha on 14.10.2013. Petitioner alleges that though the Government has kept the report top secret and has not tabled it in Parliament, in violation of the 6 month limit prescribed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the first 2 volumes of the 8 volumes submitted by the Commission have been leaked and are available in public domain (http://gulail.com/volume-1.pdf and http://gulail.com/volume-2.pdf). The first volume also contains an executive summary of the report that shows a very bleak state of affairs and total lawlessness.
The Justice Shah Commission in its report has stated :
"1. From the inquiry conducted by this Commission, it is apparent that all modes of illegal mining…are being committed in the State of Odisha.
2. Based on the facts gathered and analysis to them highlight a complete disregard and contempt for law and lawful authorities on the part of many among the emerging breed of entrepreneurs, taking undue advantage of country's natural non-renewable assets/resources for export earnings…
3. Secondly, it appears that law has been made helpless because of its systematic non-implementation."
The PIL petitioner has sought a writ to the Union and State Government to immediately stop all illegal mining in the State of Odisha and to terminate all leases that are found to be involved in illegal mining and mining in violation of the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980, the environment laws and other laws and also take action against all the violators involved either directly or indirectly in illegal mining including those named in the report of Justice Shah Commission. Petitioner has also sought a thorough investigation by an SIT or CBI under the supervision of this Hon'ble Court, as is recommended by the Justice Shah Commission, into illegal mining in Odisha and collusion between private companies/individuals and public officials of the State/Central Governments.