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Mining firms to contest Odisha's Rs 2,900-cr demand notice

Notice pertains to realise the cost of excess production beyond the limits approved under Mining Plan endorsed by the IBM

Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar 

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Mining companies in are gearing up to challenge a amounting to Rs 2,900 crore clamped by the state government. The notice pertains to realise the cost of excess production beyond the limits approved under endorsed by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), consent to operate granted by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

The notice, the second in a row by the state government since the order in a case of rampant illegal mining in filed by the NGO Common Cause, has the miners livid. The miners argue the apex court order did not point to recovering penalties for other violations save the environment clearance (EC). For iron and manganese ore production limits exceeding the EC limits, the state government had sent a demand notice, seeking Rs 17,576.17 crore — a figure worked out by the court-appointed central empowered committee (CEC).

"The second raised by the state government is against the spirit of the order.

Individual miners are going to contest this notice and file a case anytime soon with the Revision Authority (under Union mines ministry)", said Prabodh Mohanty, secretary with the Eastern Zone Mining Association (EZMA).

The Rs 2,900-crore was slapped on 23 miners violating the Forest (Conservation) Act and 151 others for other statutory non-compliances. After dispatching the notice, the state government had called the defaulting lessees for a hearing. Justifying the demand notice, director of mines (Odisha) Deepak Mohanty had said previously that the statutory violations were treated as excess production.

But, miners feel there is no mention of Forest, Air & Water Acts in the order and hence, the compensation is not payable.

According to the report, miners in illegally extracted 215.5 million tonnes of iron and manganese ore in between 2000-01 and 2010-11. Mining companies in dock include Tata Steel, Essel Mining & Industries Ltd, Indrani Patnaik, Rungta Mines, Serajuddin & Company and even state-run entities like Mining Corporation (OMC). They need to pay the compensation latest by December 31 this year.

Miners have prayed to the to extend the deadline to pay the compensation and allow them to fork out the money in tranches.

In its judgement on August 2 on the writ petition filed by Common Cause, the ordered recovery of 100% compensation from the miners.

First Published: Thu, November 23 2017. 18:25 IST
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