The Supreme Court today allowed Aditya Birla Group promoted Essel Mining & Industries to restart operations of its two iron ore leases- Koira and Jhilling-Langalota. The merchant miner has paid in full its entire share of Rs 1717 crore as directed by the apex court for illegal lifting of iron ore.
A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur considered the submission of senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for the firm, and said, “this is not in dispute that whatever amounts are due in terms of the judgment of this court dated August 2, 2017 along with interest with regard to the Jilling-Langalotta, Koira and Kasia mines have been paid.”
“Under these circumstances, the state of Odisha may permit the applicant to resume mining in the Jilling-Langalotta and Koira mines,” the bench, which also comprised Justice Deepak Gupta, said.
The counsel for Aditya Birla group firm said the penalty of Rs 1,717 crore, determined by the state government, has been paid and clearances have been obtained with respect to the two mines.
Chidambaram also said that with regard to Kasia mines in the state, all clearances have not been obtained yet and, therefore, “the question of permitting resumption of mining in Kasia mines does not arise for the present.”
The apex court turned down the plea of senior counsel Prashant Bhushan who pitched for a re-look at the environment clearance granted by the Ministry of environment & forests, alleging that there were many irregularities in the process. The apex court had earlier asked the Odisha government to recover 100 per cent compensation keeping in mind the cost of excess mining from the defaulting miners.
The court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had recommended levy of 30 per cent of the total cost of iron ore illegally mined by the firms.
The state government has collected Rs 11,200 crore penalty from the defaulting miners.