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Govt mulling demand notices to miners on excess extraction

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odisha-jharkhand minesReported by Chinmaya Dehury / Edited by Swetaparna Mohanty

BHUBANESWAR, 23 July

The Steel and Mines department is considering issue of demand notices to miners for excess mining in Joda and Koira sectors as soon as it completes hearing of all miners in the Koida sector. The department has already completed hearing of all miners in the Joda sector.

“We have completed the hearing process of all miners in Joda circle while hearing on the Koira circle will be over soon. Due to staff shortage, the process could not be completed in time,” said a senior official of the department. He, however, said there will be no major changes in the demands raised in the show cause notices as the department had issued showcause notices to the miners based on calculations of actual quantity of ore raised.

The department had imposed a total penalty of Rs 65492.73 crore on 104 errant lessees for raising ore in excess of the quantity approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) in the mining plan during 2001-10.

While about 20 miners have already moved the appellate authority under the Union mines ministry, several miners are likely to move court or other appropriate forums once the state government issues demand notices.

“They may move court challenging the imposition of fine. But, we will have to get that amount from the miners under Section 21 (5) of Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) MMDR Act-1957,” said the official when asked about the move by the miners.

Penalty was imposed on miners like Essel Mining, Tata Steel, Mid-East Integrated Steel Ltd, Indrani Patnaik, Rungta Mines and Serajuddin & Company to name a few. Out of 104 lessees, 44 operate mines in the Joda circle. These miners had raised minerals beyond their prescribed limit specified in the mining plan approved by (IBM) during 2006 to 2010.

The miners have already expressed their displeasure over the imposition of fine since they have already paid royalty for raising excess minerals. They have also apprised the Shah Commission probing the illegal mining in the state of the matter. The penalty demand for excess ore production was termed ‘unjustified’ by a body dedicated to promotion of mineral development.

“As such, demand raised on the lessees to pay the price of ore raised in excess of the quantity approved in the mining plan, environment clearance and consent letter retrospectively is totally unjustified. More so when permission had been accorded for despatch of such ores from the lease areas and royalty collected”, the Society for Geoscientists & Allied Technologists (SGAT) had stated in a note submitted to the Commission.