Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Aug 4:
In its second report on illegal mining of iron and manganese ore in Odisha, the Justice M B Shah Commission has suggested a fine of Rs 2 crore for each hectare of encroachment by mining firms, including Tata Steel and Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining, in the ecologically sensitive parts of the state.
Though the Supreme Court’s had ordered the Karnataka government to recover the cost of damages due to encroachment outside the leased area at the rate of Rs 1 crore per hectare, the Shah Commission report suggested a fine of Rs 2 crore per hectare of encroachment in Odisha arguing that Odisha’s case was different as the ecosystem in the state, with its deep forests and best elephant habitats and corridors, is highly sensitive.
The Commission’s second report, which covered 23 mining leases granted to 14 groups, has also suggested that mining leases could be cancelled altogether in cases where the encroachment is more than 15 per cent of the leased area.
The report has called for assessment of the ore removed from illegal quarry pits and recovery of its value, along with appropriate penalty from lessees.
“For other kind of encroachments (due to various mining activities), an amount of Rs 2 crore per hectare should be charged,” the Commission said in its report.
Quoting a survey done by the state government, the Commission said in its report that Tata Steel had encroached on 13.255 hectares or 1.98 per cent of the total leased area in its Joda-East Iron Ore and Manmora Manganese mines.
The survey found two cases of violation by Essel Mining and Industries in one of which the encroachment is more than 10 per cent.
Citing the Supreme Court order of 2013 for cancellation of leases where encroachment was 15 percent beyond the lease area in Karnataka, the Commission suggested that “Similar action should be taken in the case of Odisha state also.”
“The state government should prepare Rehabilitation and Reclamation Plan at the cost of the lessees and implement the same to restore the environment at the area, in the same manner, as is being done in Karnataka, as per the order of the Supreme Court,” the report said.