Union minister stands by statement on illegal mining

Bhubaneswar, Oct 9 (IANS) Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram on Friday said he would quit politics if his assertion about stacking of huge quantity of iron ore by the mafia at a railway siding in Sundargarh district of Odisha was proved false.

Oram was reacting to state Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick’s statement that there was no illegality at the Rengra railway siding and nearby areas of the district.

“I challenge the mines minister to visit the area and inspect the stacked iron ore. If I am proved wrong, I will quit politics,” said Oram.

Mallick’s statement follows an initial report by Koida deputy director of mines that the stocks were not illegal and kept in the authorised area of the siding.

“When the investigation is yet to be completed, how can the minister say there is no illegality,” asked Oram, who is a member of parliament from the district.

Oram on Thursday shot off a letter to union Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to ask for a probe into the alleged illegal mining in Sundergarh district of Odisha.

In the letter, Oram said a huge stock of minerals worth about Rs.100 crore was found near the Rengra railway siding in the Koida mines area.

“Neither the local administration nor the deputy director of mines of the circle has not taken proper action. I have information from the locals that the iron ore has been stolen from area mines by a local contractor and is worth around Rs.100 crore,” the union minister said.

Meanwhile, a special task force of the Odisha mines department on Friday began an on-the-spot investigation into the allegation.

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