Shah panel report targets 55 mines of top firms in Odisha

Shah CommissionAbout 40 firms and mining lease holders operate 55 mining leases that directly impact the Baitarni river. (IE)

Operations of top steel and mining companies, including Tata Steel, SAIL, Aditya Birla Group's Essel Mining, JSPL and Sarda Mines, are likely to get affected if a recommendation by the Justice M B Shah Commission to ban mining along the Baitarni river in Odisha is accepted.

The high-powered panel, in its five-volume report on illegal mining in Odisha, has recommended revisiting the environment approvals granted to all 55 mines around the Baitarni river and its tributaries.

"Till then, mines may be kept closed," it said, suggesting the modification of the environmental approvals of the mines by an expert panel.

The Commission said a definite decision should be taken on whether to allow large-scale mining leases to operate in the catchment area of the river.

About 40 firms and mining lease holders operate 55 mining leases that directly impact the Baitarni river.

Tata Steel and the Rungta Mines Group, with five mines each, are located in the area and would be the worst hit if the Commission's recommendation is accepted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Tata Steel, which procures 80 per cent of its iron ore requirements from Odisha, has eight mines (including manganese ore) in the state. Of these, five mines Khandhbandh, Joda East, Joda West, Manmora and Malda -- directly affect the Baitarni river.

Sourcing of iron ore for Tata Steel's upcoming 6 million tonne mill in Kalinganagar, slated for commissioning in the next financial year, is also dependent on the Odisha mines.

SAIL's Bolani iron ore mine, the Aditya Birla group's Jilling Longalota and Kasia iron ore mines, Jindal Steel & Power's Tantra Raikela Bandhal and Adhunik Metaliks' Kulum may also face closure.

The Rungta Mines Group's mines -- Jajang, Kolmong, Oraghat, Katasai and Kalimati, Serajuddin & Co's Balda block, Sarada Mines' Thakurani-B block, R P Sao's Guali, Odisha government-owned PSU Odisha Mining Corporation's three mines and one each of BPMEL and OMDC are part of the list.

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