Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 24:
The Supreme Court today lashed out at the Odisha government for undermining its order recommending an iron ore lease for Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd (BPSL ) and warned that the court will initiate contempt proceedings against it if the order is not implemented within a month.
“We hold that the Respondents/ Contemners are in contempt of orders dated 14 March 2012 passed by this Court in not complying with the directions in respect of Keora area. However, we are giving one final opportunity to them to purge the contempt by transmitting requisite recommendations to the Central Government. It would be for the Central Government to consider the said recommendations on its own merits and in accordance with law,” said the order of Supreme Court.
“In case the recommendation is sent within one month from the date of copy of receipt of this order, we propose not to take any further action and the respondents/ contemners shall stand discharged from this Contempt Petition. However, in case the respondents do not purge in the manner mentioned above, it would be open to the petitioners to point out the same to this Court by moving appropriate application and in that event the Contemners shall be proceeded against,” read the order.
(The BSPL is a separate entity and is not to be confused with Bhushan Steel Ltd.)
In March 2012, the court had directed Odisha government to recommend an iron ore mines lease with around 200 million tonne deposit to run the steel plant of BPSL for a period of 50 years as per its commitment mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked in 2002.
However, while the state government had recommended a mines lease with only 96 million tonne deposit in December 2012 in Thakurani mines of Keonjhar area, the government had not recommended for additional 128 million tonnes of iron ore in Koira area citing that it is a disputed area that overlaps the lease claims of other companies such as Tata Steel and Larsen and Toubro (L&T).
Deprived of the getting the required iron ore to feed the plant, BPSL moved the apex court dragging the state government for partially complying with the SC order and demanded initiation of contempt proceedings against state steel and mines secretary in February 2013.
The top court agreed with the contention of the company and said it was the duty of state government of to obey the top court order irrespective of the complexities involved.
The company contented that armed with those permission, the BPSL set up the plant in Lapanga in the district of Sambalpur.
BPSL claimed that is has invested Rs. 25,000 crores already in this project.