Panaji: A committee set up by the Controller General of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to investigate into the correctness of iron ore mining data maintained by the state has more or less cleared the government of any significant lapse.
The committee has attributed the difference in production data maintained by the department of mines (DMG) and the IBM to technical mismatch rather than serious flaws in reporting.
More or less giving a clear report to the DMG, the committee says that, the production reported by the DMG is compiled from item 2 of part II of the returns (Form I) submitted by the leaseholders while the production published by the IBM is of item 3 of part II of Form I.
“Both the production figures are not strictly comparable,” says the committee.
It may be remembered that NGO, Goa Foundation had filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court at Goa on March 26 2018, challenging the government’s decision to allow transportation of iron after the Supreme Court quashed the leases of 88 mines.
The NGO had also filed a rejoinder affidavit pointing out discrepancy in production of iron ore for the period 2015-18 as reported by the DMG and the IBM.
While iron ore production reported by the DMG during the three years of 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 was 7.3 million tonne, 20 million tonne and 10.6 million respectively, the figure disclosed by IBM was 1.7 million tonne, 8.9 million tonne and 5.4 million tonne.
In its rejoinder petition, the NGO said that, statistics provided by the DMG cannot be relied upon as it varies considerably from the IBM.
To explain the anomaly an enquiry committee was instituted by the IBM Controller General with the committee looking into the procedure adopted to collect and compile iron ore production by the two departments.
The findings reveal that, mining leaseholders in the state file online monthly and annual returns in Form FI and HI as per MCDR 1988 which is the old format of filing. The new format of filing is as per MCDR 2017. But the committee says that, since the new format is yet to be incorporated in the IBM- Goa portal the returns continue to be filed under the old format.
Iron ore mining in the state is currently closed due to the February 7, 2018 order of the Supreme Court that came into effect from March 16, 2018. [NT]