Illegal mining: Govt initiates process to confiscate property of penalty defaulters

Bhubaneswar: The The State government as per the Supreme Court’s directive has begun the process for attachment of property of mine owners, who have not paid penalty for illegal mining activities.

Mining lessees at Sundergarh and Keonjhar have been served notices by their respective district administrations to appear before the Collector’s court and present their side. Earlier, the Mines Secretary had written to the district collectors to take action against the defaulters and confiscate property under the Odisha Public Demands Recovery (OPDR) Act. Besides, the Secretary had asked to form a task force to calculate property of defaulters.

As per reports, 12 leaseholders of 16 mines in Sundergarh district have not paid penalty of Rs 709 crore whereas 23 lessees of 31 mines in Keonjhar district have an amount of Rs 6,300 crore due for recovery.

“A notice has been served to defaulters to appear before the Collector’s court for hearing. Basing on the arguments during the hearing, recovery of the penalty shall be decided. In case a lessee refuses to pay, either a warrant will be issued or the leaseholder’s property will be attached,” explained Surendra Kumar Meena, Sundergarh Collector.

Echoing similar views, Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick said Collectors have been asked to recover the penalty from the defaulters. If a lessee doesn’t pay, the person’s property will be confiscated as per the SC directive.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Zone Mine Owners’ Association general secretary Prabodh Mohanty said, “We would seek some more time to pay the dues. The association would request the State government not to take any coercive measure.”

As many as 56 mine leaseholders, mostly non-operational, are yet to pay Rs 7,689 crore penalty for illegal mining .In August 2017, the apex court had directed leaseholders to pay 100 per cent penalty within December 31, 2017 for excess and illegal mining.

}