Bhubaneswar, July 16 (Calcutta Tube) At least 151 mines continued to be closed in Orissa since last year as they do not have statutory clearances, an official Friday said.
The mines located in three districts of Keonjhar, Sundergarh and Mayurbhanj have been closed mostly after state authorities launched a crack down against illegal mining in the region in July last year, the senior official of the state steel and mines department told IANS.
Nearly half of the closed mines are iron ore mines, he said.
Investigations into illegal mining in Orissa by state and central agencies started after some politicians alleged in July 2009 that some mines were operating without licenses.
At least 183 people were arrested for their involvement in illegal mining activists in these three districts and more than Rs.2 crore worth of ores were seized from different area of these districts since 2007, he said.
A majority of these arrests and seizures were however made during last one year, he said.
Orissa is one of the largest mineral-bearing states in India and 16.92 percent of the mineral reserves of the country are estimated to be in the state.
Government data shows the state has 97.37 percent of all the chromite in India, 95.1 percent of all nickel, 76.67 percent of all graphite, 49.74 of bauxite, 33.91 percent of iron ore, 28.56 percent of manganese and 27.59 percent of coal.
While the state has attracted investment proposals in the mining sector worth billions of rupees, loopholes in the rules have allowed illegal mining for years.