By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, June 6, 2019: Sponge iron manufacturers have demanded immediate auctioning of mining leases in Odisha which have been cancelled over the non-payment of the Supreme Court mandated compensation for excavating ore beyond approved limits.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed the Odisha government to collect compensation from the miners for excess ore dug out between 2000-01 and 2010-11 in its verdict on a case filed by NGO Common Cause, In a scathing indictment of unlawful mining, the apex court ordered the miners to pay 100 per cent compensation. The miners were supposed to pay Rs 17,576 crore, a notional loss figure extrapolated previously by the court appointed central empowered committee (CEC). The report by CEC revealed that miners excavated 215.5 million tonnes of iron and manganese ore beyond approved limits. The court ordered that compensation was to be paid by miners on or before December 31, 2017.

Nevertheless, nearly two years after the court order, many miners are yet to comply with the court’s direction. The state government has managed to mop up only Rs 13,000 crore from the erring miners. Miners who failed to shell out the compensation had their leases revoked by the authorities.

Meanwhile, sponge iron players said that no decision had been taken on the leases of errant lessees, an action warranted under Section 4 of the amended Mines and Minerals- Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act, 2015.

Meanwhile, Vijay Jhanwar, president of Chhattisgarh Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association (CSIMA) wrote to the Union mines secretary expressing concerns on private mining licences in Odisha expiring by March 31, 2020.

“According to our estimates, we expect the government to generate at least a 60 per cent average premium along with upfront payment of at least Rs 10,000 crore if all the working mines are auctioned immediately. This will also help the government generate additional revenue of Rs 10,000 crore besides the royalty and District Mineral Foundation (DMF). If some small changes are made in the auction rules, it will help in a smooth transition of leases and the domestic steel industry would also become competitive. We hope that the government will start the auction process immediately and allow small producers to bid in a consortium”, the letter said.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of