SC order on illegal mining: BJP cries foul over delay in notices to erring firms

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Bhubaneswar: Even three days after the Supreme Court judgment directing 100 per cent penalty on illegal mining, the State government is still in the dark on the amount of fine to be imposed on the lessees and analysing legal aspects of the order to finalise the amount.

The delay in issuing notice to the illegal miners has been termed by BJP as Government’s bid to create confusion so that the interests of the erring mining companies could be protected.

“It is clearly mentioned on page 29 of the Supreme Court judgment that Odisha government has issued notice to lessees to recover a total Rs 59,000 crore. Why the State government is creating confusion again? The government doesn’t hesitate to protect the interest of illegal lease holders as much as possible,” BJP general secretary Bhrugu Buxipatra said.

At a press meet, he alleged quoting the apex court’s order that the State government had issued notices to collect fine from 146 lessees. As per the notice, more than Rs 13,000 crore are supposed to be collected from 55 miners in Koida sector, Rs 44,000 crore from 72 erring firms in Joda sector and Rs 1,065 crore from four lease holders in Keonjhar circle. Similarly, the government aimed at fetching Rs 467 crore from 11 firms in Baripada circle for extracting mineral ores illegally. In total Rs 59,000 crore fine was mentioned in the court judgement. According to CEC (central empowered committee) assessment the amount exceeds Rs 61,000 crore.

The BJP leader alleged that State is creating confusion over the content of page 16 of the judgement copy which only mentions Rs 17,576 crore penalty for violations pertaining to environmental clearances. However, put together all violations, the total figure would be around Rs 59,000 crore.

The government on the other hand denied any confusion in imposing the penalty. “There is no confusion in it and government’s stand is clear. We assessed Rs 67,000 -68,000 crore fine which we presented before the Supreme Court and we stand by it. Strict action will be initiated as per the court order,” Mines Minister Prafulla Mallik said.

The companies in the dock include State-run entities like Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) among others. The OMC has to cough up a penalty of Rs 2,177 crore for extracting minerals without valid environmental clearance.

Chief Secretary AP Padhi said the amount of penalty would be assessed in a week. “We are analysing legal aspects of the apex court’s judgement. The whole amount can be assessed by next week. The judgment will impact OMC among others,” the Chief Secretary said.

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