The state government has asked the Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd, to pay a fine of Rs 1,306 crore for mining coal without environment clearance in the Ib valley area.
It said Mahanadi Coalfields had resorted to illegal extraction of coal in the absence of statutory clearances and, therefore, is liable to pay the penalty amount.
Earlier, the Deputy Director of Mines, Sambalpur circle, had issued a demand notice to Mahanadi Coalfields for payment of Rs 862.58 crore as fine. But the state steel and mines secretary has sent another letter recently to MCL ordering it to pay Rs 1,306 crore towards the dues calculated for realisation of the cost price of the coal mined illegally.
The bill was prepared after observations of the Deputy Accountant General, Odisha. The revised bill was sent after the observation of the Comptroller and Auditor General regarding the short assessment of cost price of coal mined illegally in areas not covered by an environment licence.
Director-finance, Mahanadi Coalfields, Kulamani Biswal said, “We have not violated any law. So the state government cannot impose any fine or penalty on us. Being a Central sector PSU, we abide by all rules. There is no question of MCL paying any fine illegally raised on us. We will take appropriate action after we look into the notice.”
However, the state steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty has asked the steel and mines department to take appropriate steps to check illegal extraction of coal by MCL, government sources said.
This is the second time MCL has run into problems with the state authorities on environment issues. Earlier this month, the deputy director of mines, Talcher circle, had served closure notices on nine out of 11 mines of Mahanadi Coalfields, urging the coal authorities to stop all mining activities including despatch of coal, on the ground that the consent to operate issued by the State Pollution Control Board to these mines in Talcher region had expired on March 31.