By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, February 15, 2018: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Essel Mining and Industries to resume mining operation in two of its three mines in Odisha saying that mining in the third can start only with the consent of the state government.

The bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta permitted Essel Mining and Industries — a part of the Aditya Birla Group of industries — to restart mining activities in Jilling and Koira mines as it has deposited a penalty Rs 1,717 crore determined by the state government.

However, Essel will have to get the state government’s approval for starting mining activities in Kasia. Besides, the court declined the plea by counsel Prashant Bhushan that the forest clearance given to the company be re-looked as he referred to Birla Sahara papers alleging irregularities in the grant of the green nod by the Environment and Forest Ministry.

The bench said that it cannot expand the scope of the hearing.

Earlier in its order on August 2, 2017, the Court had directed the Odisha government to recover the cost of excess production from the defaulting miners.

The Apex court called for the recovery of 100 per cent compensation from the defaulting companies compared to 30 per cent as was recommended by the court appointed central empowered committee (CEC).

The top court by its August 2, 2017 order had asked the mining companies involved in violation of forest and environmental clearances to deposit by December 31, 2017 the fine to be determined by the state government.

The top court had said that the amount to be raised as fine would be utilized for the benefit of tribals in the affected districts and for area development work.

By its August 2 judgment, the top court had asked the Central government to have a fresh look at its decade-old National Mineral Policy, 2008 particularly with regard to conservation and mineral development.

The court had also asked the Centre to complete the exercise by December 31, 2017.

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