Iron ore mafia flourish despite police action – by Naresh Chandra Pattanayak (Times of India – September 18, 2014)

KEONJHAR: The authorities in the past few days have crack down on iron ore smugglers in Keonjhar district, making several seizures of illegally-extracted ore. However, such action has done little to daunt mineral mafia of the region.

Sources alleged that authorities here are hand in glove with the ore smugglers and arrest only the small fish, allowing actual criminals to operate freely.

On Friday, 130 MT of illegally extracted ore was seized from Dumirta village in Sidhamatha reserve forest. On Thursday, 309 MT of iron ore was recovered from the reserve forest. On Wednesday, the mining department seized 400 MT ore from Murga-Bilepada road near Deojhar railway siding.

Around 839 MT iron ore worth Rs 20 lakh have been seized from Joda mining area in the past few months. Police and mining department officials have also seized several tippers, trucks and light vehicles carrying stolen iron and manganese ore.

Despite multiples raids in various forest areas to curb mineral theft, mineral mafia are continuing their activities in Joda, Bamebari, Rugudi, Barbil and Bolani police limits with impunity. Illegal mining is rampant in Sidhamatha, Kundurpani, Roida, Chormalda,Thakurani, Mahaparvat, Kalaparvat, Tankura, Murga reserve forest and some mining leased areas that are lying abandoned.

The minerals are allegedly transported to the border areas of Jharkhand through Nalda, Murga, Anseikela, Champua and Koida (Sundargarh). The ore is then sent to various places in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh in trucks.

DDM Joda Satyananda Sahu said, “Regular raids have been conducted in forest areas by a joint squad. We are also taking steps to strengthen the border areas to check mineral smuggling”.

SDPO (Barbil) A P Swain said, “Police teams are patrolling highways to check smuggling of stolen minerals. Steps are being taken to bust the smuggling racket”.

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