Odisha set to recover price on excess raising of minerals

Bhubaneswar: State government will recover the price of minerals raised "without lawful authority" from mines that made production in excess of the approved limit, official sources said today.

A direction in this regard was issued to all the district collectors and director of mines by the steel and mines department. The government had meanwhile identified that as many as 104 mines which have raised ore in excess of the quantity approved by IBM (Indian bureau of mines) in the mining plan during the period of 10 years.

"You are requested to instruct the deputy directors of mines, mining officers in-charge of the mining circles to raise demands against mines that made production in excess of the approved limit," steel and mines secretary D K Singh wrote to the director of mines.

The move came basing on the recommendation of the verification committee that inspected activities of mines in different parts of the state.

The committee was set up for verification of excess production of mineral like iron, manganese, chromite, bauxite and lime stone during the last 10 years vis-a-vis quantity approved in the mining plan under Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988 and statutory clearance issued under the provision of Environment (protection) Act, 1986 and consent to operate under Water (prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1981.

The state government asked the director mines to issue 30-days notices to lessees found indulging in excess production by violating laws. "Such lessee will also pay simple interest at the rate of 24 per cent per annum on the sum due towards price on raising excess mineral without lawful authority," an official said.

Meanwhile, Accountant General, Odisha in its note on illegal extraction of iron ore has pointed out that the "Putullpani Iron Ore Mines has exceeded permissible limit of the production of 1.20 lak MT of iron ore per annum from the year 2004-05."

"The lessee applied only in September 2006 for environment clearance for enhancement of production from 1.2 lakh MT per annum to 3.60 Lakh MT per annum. The government of India accorded environment clearance for the enhanced production capacity of 3.60 lakh MT per annum in August 2007," the department secretary D K Singh said.

The lessee, however, produced iron ore in excess of the permitted quantity of 3.60 lakh MT during 2007-08 onwards (upto August 2009), he said.

"Accordingly, the audit has observed that the lessee has unlawfully produced 25.13 Lakh MT of iron ore during the period from 2007-08 to 2009-10 (upto August 2009). For this excess quantity produced in violation of the provision of the Environment (protection) Act, 1986, the AG has made the lessees liable to pay Rs 216.69 crore towards the price of the ore raised in excess under section 21(5) of M & M (DR)Act, 1957," Singh said in the letter to the director of mines.

However, the lessee has approached the Central Government under section 30 of MM (DR) Act, 1957 challenging the recovery of the price of mineral. "The Central government has ordered that pending final decision in the case, no coercive action for recovery of Rs 216.69 crore may be made," an official said.