Five working iron and manganese ore mines in Odisha have been forced out of operations as they failed to pay the Supreme Court ordered penalties by December 31 last year.
Mining industry sources said two mines in Koira and three in Joda circle faced closure. The mines being shut down are the ones held by Mesco Steel, Sirajuddin & Company, government owned IDCOL and National Enterprises.
After the Supreme Court verdict dated August 2 this year, the Odisha government had slapped demand notices on 131 mines to pay compensation amounting to Rs 17,576.17 crore for environment violations. The miners were bound to pay the compensation for overproduction of iron ore and manganese ore latest by December 31 to save their leases.
Out of 131 mines being served with penalty demand notices, 45 were in a working condition. While 40 leaseholders will still continue operations, five others will be shut for not paying fines within the deadline. Among the non-working lessees, Sarda Mines was the biggest defaulter with a pending fine of Rs 1938 crore. There are scores of other non-working mines that did not pay penalties- Orissa Minerals Development Company (OMDC), Patnaik Minerals Pvt Ltd, RP Sao, RB Das, SC Padhi, SD Sharma, TB Lal & Company, BD Patnaik, Arjun Ladha, BC Dev and Bhanja Minerals and others to name a few.
Odisha government officials said the state government managed to collect Rs 8250 crore of penalty by the stipulated deadline.
Most of the key miners with huge penalty burdens have paid their share of compensation. Tata Steel, Essel Mining, Rungta, state run Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Indrani Patnaik, Kaypee Enterprises, Aryan Mining & Trading Corporation and Tarini Minerals and K N Ram have made payments (as on December 29), the official said. All these companies were slapped with demand notices where the payable amount exceeded Rs 100 crore.
OMC faced the biggest penalty burden at Rs 2177.97 crore. There were other leaseholders saddled with significant penalties- Sarda Mines (Rs 1983.86 crore), Essel Mining (Rs 1102 crore), Mesco Steel (Rs 924.75 crore), Orissa Minerals Development Corporation (Rs 642 crore) and Tata Steel (Rs 614 crore).
The central empowered committee CEC, an apex court appointed panel to probe illegal mining in Odisha, had calculated the figure for excess mining beyond the limits approved under EC), at Rs 17576.17 crore. Its report says miners illegally extracted 215.5 million tonnes of iron and manganese ore between 2000-01 and 2010-11.