Terming the recent crackdown of the state government to recover Rs 57,904 crore from miners in excess lifting case as a belated action, main opposition party Congress said, the government must take steps to recover money earned by mining mafia, who profited immensely by digging up free area, not leased out to anyone.
“The Rs 57,904 crore demand from lease holders may go up once all the over-production is accounted for. But what about the revenue loss that happened due to mining in non-operational and non-lease area, which is pure theft?” asked Niranjan Patnaik, president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee.
The party said, the potential recovery amount could go up to as high as Rs 250,000 crore if profit from un-leased area is accounted for.
The party accused the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of letting illegal mining continue unabated in the state.
First, the lease-holders, who are legal entities, were allowed by the state government to produce iron ore beyond the approved mining plan. Second, the non-operational mines were allowed to be looted by the mining mafia.There was no enforcement of law and the state government facilitated the loot, Patnaik accused.
The state government has taken a series of decisions including policy modifications to curb illegal mining in the state. Congress said, all these measures were taken in panic and fear after the Goa government banned mining post Shah Commission report.
“They want to preempt the Shah Commission report and hope that when the matter is eventually investigated by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), the government can admit to omissions by some lower level officials, deny acts of commission and evade criminal liability,” it alleged.
He expressed doubt that if the government will be able to recover the amount as the direction is likely to be challenged in court of law.“I have my doubts that the government can get back any significant amount from the Rs 57,904 crore that they are now claiming from lease holders as the entire process may enter into a prolonged process of litigation and arbitration. As regards the mining mafia, there is not even an address to send a notice.” may enter into a prolonged process of litigation and arbitration. As regards the mining mafia, there is not even an address to send a notice.”