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BJP today accused the BJD government in Odisha of trying to "help" mines owners by "slashing" penalty amount and threatened to move the court to ensure recovery of cent per cent fine from companies which had indulged in illegal mining. "There seems to be an unholy nexus between BJD regime and mining companies.
Our party will approach the court to ensure recovery of 100 per cent penalty from errant mining companies as per the Supreme Court order," BJP Odisha unit general secretary Bhrugu Baxipatra told reporters. He claimed that the BJD government is trying to reduce the penalty amount though the Supreme Court had found extraction of huge quantities of iron ore and manganese ore by mining companies in the state and directed for recovery of 100 per cent penalty for excess extraction. Claiming that the state government was supposed to recover Rs 59,000 crore from mines owners for illegal mining, Baxipatra said surprisingly the amount has now been pegged at only around Rs 17000 crore. This has exposed the nexus between the BJD, bureaucrats and mining companies, the BJP leader alleged. Baxipatra's statement came a day after Odisha government said it expects about Rs 20,000 crore penalty collection from mines owners who indulged in illegal mining and violated several laws including environmental clearance, forest clearance, mining rules and consent to operate norms. "We are expecting penalty collection of about Rs 17,575 crore towards violation of environment laws and another Rs 2,000 crore from violation of forest clearance, mining plan and operate to consent norms," chief secretary A P Padhi had told reporters after a review meeting yesterday. Besides Padhi, state advocate general and senior officials of the Forest and Environment department and Mining department attended the meeting to chalk out the modalities of the penalty collection from the mines owners as per the Supreme Court's August 2 judgement. The meeting resolved that the fresh demand notices would be served to the mines owners within 10 days for recovery of penalty from them on charge of violation of several laws. The state government had earlier issued notices to the lessees for recovery of more than Rs 61,000 crore. The Supreme Court relied on the 2014 final report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) according to which the total number of leases granted for mining iron and manganese ore was 187 in three districts out of which 102 lease holders did not have requisite environment clearance under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 or approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The Apex Court on its August 2 judgement had said that the mining companies in Odisha operating without environmental clearance will have to pay a 100 per cent penalty to the state on the price of illegally extracted iron and manganese ores with effect from 2000-01.
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