By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, March 22, 2018: Having collected in excess of Rs 11700 crore compensation from the errant iron ore and manganese miners, the Odisha government has now slapped a demand notice of Rs 8297 crore on Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), the second largest subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), for unlawful production of coal.

The state government is leaving no stone unturned by identifying other mining firms for violations like excavating minerals in violation of environmental clearance (EC) and forest clearance (FC).

The state is all set to send demand notices of Rs 4500 crore to some of the large chrome ore miners including Tata Steel, Jindal Stainless, Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys (IMFA) and state Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for similar violations.

The errant companies include state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (Rs 1660 crore), Tata Steel (Rs 1575 crore), Jindal Stainless (Rs 126 crore), IMFA (Rs 140 crore), Balasore Alloys (Rs 300 crore), FACOR (Rs 201 crore), IDCOL (Rs 337 crore), Misrilal (RS 42 crore), B C Mohanty (Rs 122 crore). The demand notices will be sent to them soon, official sources said.

Incidentally, the decision by the state government follows in the aftermath of expansion of the scope by the Supreme Court order on illegal iron ore and manganese mining in the state under the section 21 (5) of the mines and mineral development and regulation (MMDR) Act.

Earlier, illegal mining under this section of the Act was perceived to be mining outside the leasehold area, the August 2, 2017 order of the court inferred that raising of ore without the requisite support EC and FC would also tantamount to illegal mining.

The Apex Court asked the state government to recover the amount equivalent to the price of mineral so raised as compensation. The period for which the irregularities were taken into account was from 2000-01 to 2010-11.

Though the court order came while disposing of a case relating to illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in Odisha, the state government has decided to expand the scope of the judgement to other minerals like coal, chromite, bauxite and lime stone as the court in general has given a new interpretation to the section 21 (5) of the MMDR Act which governs mining of all major minerals.

However, MCL had taken a stand that the ramification of the Supreme Court judgment should not be applicable to them as it pertained to iron ore and manganese leases. Besides, it argued that they being guided by Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957, the changes in interpretation of section 21 (5) of MMDR Act should no way affect them.

However, the state government has rejected the MCL plea saying the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act is applicable only for acquisition of land for coal excavation, while the mining activity is governed by MMDR Act.

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