By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, June 13, 2018: Errant miners in Odisha seems to be in trouble with the state government asking district collectors of two iron ore rich districts, Keonjhar and Sundargarh to submit status reports on action initiated against the defaulters.

The state government now plans to initiate legal action against the defaulting mining companies, officials said. Incidentally, principal secretary (steel & mines), R K Sharma, has asked the collectors of both the districts to submit the status report on action taken with respect to identification of properties to initiate certificate cases.

Post the Supreme Court order in a case of rampant illegal mining in Odisha, the state government had slapped notices on 131 iron and manganese ore miners to recover Rs 175.76 billion for violating environment clearance (EC) limits while extracting ore. The figure was calculated by the Apex Court appointed panel, the central empowered committee (CEC). The Court incidentally had stipulated December 31, 2017 as the deadline for payments.

But not all miners complied with this deadline. The non-payment of compensation had led to the temporary shutdown of seven working iron ore mines in Odisha with an annual capacity to mine 23 million tons, sources said. .

However, the Apex Court top court condoned delay in payments by the miners who were directed to pay the arrears with 12 per cent interest. State run mining entity Industrial Development Corporation (Idcol), Serajuddin & Company and Aditya Birla owned Essel Mining & Industries were amongst the miners making payments beyond the deadline. After the delayed payments, the state government issued orders to facilitate resumption of mines by Idcol, Essel Mining & Serajuddin & Company.

The state level task force now has decided to recover dues from the leaseholders who failed to shell out the compensation from the 56 errant lessees by identifying their assets and properties for confiscation and freezing of bank accounts.

The state government managed to collect Rs 120 billion from the iron ore and manganese mines owners. Proceeds of the fund would go to the Odisha Mineral Bearing Area Development Corporation, the special purpose vehicle formed for periphery development of areas impacted by mining operations.

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