Mining turns to technology to end fraud and bring transparency

Mekhri circle, a claustrophobic junction in Bengaluru, is known for its nasty traffic snarls. Inside a conference room of a non-descript building near Mekhri Circle, a computer system monitors traffic of a different kind. On an LCD screen are countless blips each representing trucks transporting iron ore mined in Goa. Each blip has data about the weight of the iron ore being transported, traffic violations by the trucks and of course, the value of the ore being transported.

This big brother surveillance is part of a technology platform that is working to bring transparency into the scam-hit iron ore sector in Goa and the mafia-infested sand mining business in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The scams were staggering in size. According to one estimate by the Shah Commission, constituted by mines ministry in 2010, to look into the illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in the country, the losses from the Goa iron ore scam were at about Rs 35,000 crore.