Mines owners challenge Odisha govt’s order on stamp duty

Bhubaneswar: Challenging the state government's July 3 order to shut down mines for non-payment of stamp duty by Tuesday, about 15 miners today filed writ petitions in Orissa High Court seeking to quash the Indian Stamp (Odisha Amendment) Act, 2013.

The court is scheduled to take up hearing of the writ petitions today.

The mine owners who have challenged the state government's order included PSUs like Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL). Major private miners like Tata Steel, EMIL, Rungta Mines, Jindal group and mining lobby body Federation of Indian Mineral Industries(FIMI) also filed separate petitions.

The miners have urged the High Court to quash the Indian Stamp (Odisha Amendment) Act, 2013, as it allows Odisha government to collect stamp duty on lapsed mining leases, presently operating under deemed extension clause of Mining Concession Rule, 1960.

Of the 600 mines in the state, about 329 have applied for renewal of their mining leases. A total 130 mines are in operation, 57 of them under the provision of deemed renewal.

Stamp duty will be collected from the mines operating under the deemed renewal.

The steel and mines department secretary in separate letters to all district collectors on July 3 had directed to ensure closure of the mines which failed to pay stamp duty by July 9.

About 57 iron ore, manganese, coal, chromite and bauxite mines face fear of shut down in the wake of the order.

Reacting to the miners moving the HC, state steel and mines minister R K Singh said "Since they (mines) have moved the High Court, we will wait for the judgement."

Singh said a delegation of the miners had earlier met the steel and mines secretary and opposed implementation of the July 3 order. "But they had not given any written representation to the government before moving the High Court." .