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Mine scam: Civil groups clamour for CBI probe

Orissa mining scam, billed as India's biggest looting of public property, on Monday brought civil society groups and people from
different walks of life to demand CBI probe on the ground that only the country's highest investigating agency can bring the real culprits to book.

They said a number of highly placed persons in the government and administration are suspected to be involved without whom a scam of such magnitude and spaced over years would not have been possible.

They described the vigilance probe ordered recently only after the scam came to the public domain as nothing but a facade and said it is silly to expect the state agency to nail people under whom it is functioning.

At a meeting organized to discuss the mining scam here jointly by Orissa Jana Samilani and Kranti Manch, speakers challenged the "integrity" of people in power and wondered how the government closed its eyes to the looting of ores that continued for years. The meeting, first of its kind without involving political parties, in a resolution said a "group of politicians, officials and business men close to them" had been benefited by the senseless looting of the mineral resources. "The scam has cost the state revenue worth thousands of crores. Those in power were voted by the general public with a lot of hope to see the state achieve social and economic development. But they have let down the people. The precious mineral resources of the state is not safe in the hands of the present government," the resolution said.

Another resolution passed at the meeting said the destruction of forest due to illegal mining has taken away the source of livelihood for lakhs of people, particularly tribals. "The forest, environment, water sources have been devastated leading to ecological imbalance in the mines areas. Since the government has been found incompetent to protect the natural resources a separate committee comprising people from the government and the civil society should be formed for the purpose," the resolution said.

It also demanded separate compensation for the families of people who have been killed by trucks carrying mineral resources. "Media reports indicate in Keonjhar district alone nearly 300 people are getting killed every year by ore-laden trucks. This has rendered the victims' families to live in penury and anxiety. The government must make a list of those killed and award compensation to them," it said. The meeting referred to the environment impact assessment (EIA) reports prepared by mining companies and raised doubts on their authenticity. "When mining has a strong bearing on the environment and lives of local people the government should prepare it instead of asking the private business houses to do it," the meeting said.

Source: TOI


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