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Non-Operating Odisha Mine Owners Unable To Pay 100% Fine By Dec 31: Mines Owners’ Body

28 December 2017

Soumya Ranjan Sahoo

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Bhubaneswar: Even though the Supreme Court has set December 31 as deadline for collection of cent percent penalty from the mines leaseholders for their blatantly illegal and excess mining earlier, Eastern Zone Mining Association (EZMA) says maximum non-operating mines owners are unable to abide by the apex court’s strict directive.

In his reactions, EZMA general secretary Prabodh Mohanty said, “Various penalised mines owners have already started paying their penalty amount for the last two days. Till now as per the information available with us, approximately Rs 4000 crores of compensation amount from all mining circles in the State has been deposited with the State Government’s coffers. We hope approximately Rs 8000-1000 crores of compensation amount would be deposited by December 31 midnight.”

“The compensation amount is being paid by the operating mines owners. About 46 iron and manganese mines are operating at present. But maximum non-operating mines are unable to pay it by the December 31 deadline as it is an uphill task for the owners to arrange the amount,” Mohanty informed.

He further informed, “Now when the State Government will file the status report in the Supreme Court that it had issued demand notices to the 152 mines leaseholders, but only 46 or the paid figures have complied while others have defaulted. Then the discussion will arise on the reason behind it. Thus, the defaulter leaseholders will narrate their miseries in the apex court. They will apprise the court that they couldn’t as the mines are closed for which arrangement of funds is causing problem.”

“The mines owners will appeal the court to grant them permission to pay the compensation amount on installment basis by allowing further time and also allow them to operate mines. By this funds could be generated and also the penalty set by the Supreme Court could be paid,” the EZMA general secretary stated.

Amid such a development, former Mines Director B.K. Mohanty commented, “Those who will default, their leases will be cancelled. Non-working mines leases yet to be cancelled. Following non-payment of the penalty amount fixed by the Supreme Court, Government will decide on cancellation of the mine leases, take over custody and next step will be fresh auction.”

“The mine owners had wished for a review of the verdict and had appealed for time. But both were set aside by the Supreme Court. Now there is no scope left out. If one fails to pay as per the royalty demand, the next legal course is Certificate Court. The amount will be collected by it. If further fails there, property of the mine owners will be attached. It is all in the lease provisions. And this is the procedure,” the retired Mines Director stated.

Notably, penalty amount of Rs 17,500 crores has to be collected by the December 31 deadline as directed by the Supreme Court in August this year while pronouncing its landmark judgement on illegal and excess mining.

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Prabodh Mohanty, General Secretary, EZMA

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B.K. Mohanty, Former Director, Mines, Odisha