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Bhushan evades Rs 11 cr royalty !

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OST Bureau

Angul, Dec 7:

The fact that no efforts are being made for the realization of revenue to the tune of Rs 11 crore from Bhushan Steel Limited at Kantabania in Dhenkanal district, due for payment since 2006, and the company has not bothered to deposit a paisa in the government coffers, has reinforced the public perception that Naveen Patnaik government is in cahoots with the Bhushan management.

A senior local lawyer said, “The company which is notorious for the death of more than hundred workers since its inception because of poor safety standards is also a smart and defiant tax evader”.

Under the Orissa Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2004 Bhushan cannot extract minor minerals from the land allotted to it. However, one can extract minor minerals by paying a royalty to the government under the rules.

But the company had extracted morrum (spoils) and stones from the large area allotted to it and utilized it for the construction of its plant.

By 2006 royalty demand exceeding a little more than Rs 11 crore was raised against Bhushan Steel Ltd by Dhenkanal and Hindol tehsils . However, the company has been evading it since then.

Information accessed through RTI (Dhenkanal colletor’s letter no.946/30.12. 2005, letter no. 56/6.1.2006, letter no.76/24.1.2006) reveals that Dhenkanal and Hindol tehsils by January 2006 had raised demands of Rs 11,01,09,222 on the company.

The then district collector and tehsildar had on more than ten occasions written to the company for realization of the amount. But Bhushan never paid any heed to it.

On the other hand, the then sub-collector is learnt to have helped the company to evade the royalty amount. The Dhenkanal sub-collector on March 18, 2006 through a letter (letter no. 74/18.3.2006) had directed Bhushan authorities to pay a paltry Rs 15 lakh towards royalty.

It is not clear what was basis on which the sub-collector demanded Rs 15 lakhs as against dues of more than Rs 11 crore raised by the collector and the tehsildar. Despite the sub-collector’s notice violating the royalty demand note raised by the collector and tehsildar, none in the government raised a voice on the issue.

Surprisingly, the tehsildar who had raised the Rs 11 crore royalty demand on Bhushan was suspended from his job in 2007 without any serious reasons behind it. On the other hand, the concerned sub-collector, who had deprived the state exchequer of revenue to the tune of crores, got promoted.

After the suspended tehsildar was proved innocent in 2009, the then Revenue secretary cum commissioner G V V Sharma had directed the Dhenkanal district collector (letter no.282/2009) to frame draft charges against the controversial sub-collector.

Four years have elapsed since then but the draft report of the Dhenkanal collector is yet to reach the state secretariat, said sources. Neither has the district collector realized the Rs 11 crore royalty from the Bhushan management. In the meanwhile, the tehsildar who raised the demand on Bhushan has retired.

There is still no word from the district collector or the state government as to when the arrears to tune of Rs 11 crore going to be realized from Bhushan.