CBI moves against Usha Martin Ltd in iron ore mining lease case

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Representational picture shows iron ore mines in Jharkhand

Investigations revealed that the prime case of Usha Martin Ltd has taken the turn with the CBI seeking consent of the government of Jharkhand to file a regular case against the Ranchi based famous private company-Usha Martin Ltd.

Apart from the Usha Martin Ltd,the CBI seeks permission from the state government against its own officials who allegedly connived and helped this company get irregular grant of iron ore mining lease in village Ghatkuri of Singhbhum West district years ago.

In fact,CBI had completed its preliminary enquiry arising out of adverse findings of Shah Commission Report.More,Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das is learnt to have approved the file granting permission to CBI to file a regular case in this matter and start further investigation at the level of CBI .

The case relates to grant of an iron ore mining lease to Usha Martin Ltd in 2005 in village Ghatkuri of Singhbhum West district. There were five applicants over this iron ore mine.However,the state government recommended to Central Government for grant of mining lease in favour of Usha Martin Ltd on the undertaking of the Company that it will use iron ore in its steel plant situated at Gamahria.

This undertaking of the company led the state government invoke section 11(5) of MMDR Act, 1957 in favour of Usha Martin Ltd for recorded special reason of captive consumption.

Accordingly Central Government accorded permission to State Government under section 5(1) invoking section 11(5) of MMDR Act, 1957 as special reason .

However, then Secretary, Mines Arun Kumar Singh allegedly did not mention the special reason of captive consumption in the Cabinet note prepared and signed by him.Hence the ultimate lease grant order issued to Deputy Commissioner, Chaibasa did not mention the captive condition as such.

Investigation releaded that after execution of the mining lease deed,the Usha Martin Ltd did a volte face and claimed that the mining lease did not contain the captive consumption clause, and as such the company was free to sell or export iron ore from this mining lease .

Subsequently,District Mining Officer, Chaibasa opposed this move of Usha Martin Ltd in two communications sent to Secretary, Mines in the early 2008.However,the sate government took two years to issue a prohibitory order banning sale and export of iron ore from all captive mines including Usha Martin Ltd.

It is learnt that the TATA and SAIL who are other captive iron ore producers realized their mistake and accepted this order of the state government.But Usha Martin Ltd continued influencing the corridors of power to allow sell and export iron ore on the plea that no such special condition is there in the mining lease deed duly executed between the state and the lessee .

During the tenure of Hemant Soren as Deputy Chief Minister and Mines Minister, the state Cabinet passed a resolution in 2011 allowing sale of surplus mineral by captive lessee in the garbe of waste material.

However a PIL was filed by Mr. K.N.Tripathy, MLA in Jharkhand High Court challenging this policy of the Jharkhand government allowing disposal of waste from captive mines.Jharkhand Vikas Morcha led by Babulal Marandi and Pradeep Yadav raised this issue of loot of mineral in Jharkhand Legislative Assembly and stalled the house for three consecutive days.

Then,the Shah Commission of Enquiry constituted by the Central Government pointed out that the prime reason of this sale and export of iron ore by Usha Martin Ltd is non insertion of captive condition or special condition in the Cabinet note prepared by the Secretary, Mines.

Simultaneously, Shah Commission also held the view that the counter affidavit filed by the State Government before Jharkhand High Court in the PIL missed the crucial captive undertaking furnished by the Usha Martin Ltd and thereby misled the Jharkhand High Court.

This suppression of crucial undertaking of captive consumption from Jharkhand High Court by the Department of Mines & Geology led by A.K.Sarkar as Additional Chief Secretary, Mines and B.B.Singh as Director, Mines helped Usha Martin Ltd secure a favourable order from the High Court that there exists no captive condition or special condition in the mining lease deed .

Feeling victorious with a High Court order obtained by way of connivance with state machinery , Usha Martin Ltd filed a Contempt Case against State
Officials, when the successive District Mining Officers denied permissions for sale and export of iron ore inspire of court order sensing the connivance of own Departmental Secretary and Director with Usha Martin Ltd .

However it was around 2014 when new Secretary, Mines,Arun filed a detailed show cause before Jharkhand High Court expressing inability to allow Usha Martin sale and export the iron ore in the Contempt Case as this mining lease was granted in preference to other applicants due to this very captive condition though not written expressly in the grant order by way of omission.

Arun also filed the suppressed undertaking before the High Court.Now,the CBI has to investigate this omission by A.K.Sarkar and B.B Singh!

Against this backdrop,though the present Chief Minister Raghubar Das has given go ahead to CBI to investigate the matter by filing a regular case,the company owners and representatives such as Jhawars and Samir Lohia are reportedly struggling to delay the communication to CBI by extraneous considerations.

Notably,till the time of publishing this investigative news no file was with the CBI though sources claimed that the Chief Minister Raghubar Das has given a go ahead to ile the case against Usha Martin Ltd around ten days back!

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