By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 3, 2018: Odisha government on Wednesday said it would undertake various developmental activities in about 1000 identified villages in eight mineral-bearing districts from the penalty collected from mining lease holders for illegal mining.

In line with the Supreme Court order, various developmental activities will be undertaken in these areas through the special purpose vehicle (SPV), a ‘not-for-profit” government company namely Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC).

“The money collected as penalty will be spent through the SPV-OMBADC. It will be spent for development in about 1000 identified villages in mineral bearing areas,” Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick on Wednesday told media persons.

The BJP, however, slammed the State government for downscaling penalty on mining lease holders from its earlier demand of Rs 62,000 crore.

“I ask on behalf of the people of the State why Rs 62,000 crore was not recovered and not spent for development of 10,000 villages through the SPV?” questioned BJP State unit vice president Samir Mohanty.

Senior Congress leader and former Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Niranjan Patnaik favoured spending the amount collected towards penalty for development of tribals residing in mineral bearing areas and economic development of farmers.

“The collected money should be spent for the development of tribals in those areas from where it has been collected. It should be spent for the economic development of farmers for which we need to develop a package,” said Patnaik.

The State government by December 31, 2017 had collected Rs 8,223 crore as penalty from mining companies operating without necessary clearances.