The Justice MB Shah Committee, appointed by the Central Government to probe illegal mining of iron ore and manganese across the country met with a poor response in Ranchi, on the first day of the two-day public hearing.
Jharkhand, accounts for a fourth of the country's iron ore. The few journalists covering the event outnumbered the public, and the former judge had to beseech the few attendees to come forward to hear the complaints.
The state's senior mines official pointed out that the procedures for public hearings of advertising in local dailies had been carried out. "It's probably a reflection of public interest, " said an senior official in attendance.
"We have suggested that all conditions imposed on a lessee, the areas, and production limits must be uploaded on the net by states. It will then be for you, informed people to report any irregularities, or defiance of these conditions," Justice Shah told journalists later.
The sole person who'd come to volunteer a complaint, was an RTI activist who went by the name Vijay. Introducing himself to the panel he said, "I don't have anything to do with mining. Am an Annawadi, (follower of Anna Hazare), and his sole purpose for attending was to vent his ire against a "form of corruption."
Many vigilantes were caught unawares by the public hearing. On the eve of the meeting, human rights activists of the state such as Gladson Dungdung were unaware of the hearing.
"The entire economy of Jharkhand is based on mining. We have one former Chief Minister in jail and yet the government didn't think it important enough to publicise it adequately," said a senior journalist.