Notices likely to 75 leases for illegal mining in Odisha
New Delhi: The Centre may issue show cause notices to companies, including SAIL, Tata Steel, Essel Mining, JSPL and OMC, that hold 75 leases where illegal mining of iron and manganese ores was found by the Shah Commission.
The step would be in addition to legal action being initiated by the Odisha government against firms that carried out mining operations without environmental and other clearances.
The Centre-appointed Justice M B Shah Commission of Inquiry termed 22.56 lakh tonnes of iron and 3 lakh tonne of manganese ore productions by companies holding 75 leases as "illegal", recommending recovery of ore value from these firms.
As many as 75 firms, including Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Tata Steel, Aditya Birla group`s Essel Mining and Industries, Jindal Strips of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), have been accused of indulging in "illegal/without any lawful authority" production of ores.
"It is proposed to issue directions to these 75 mining leases for restricting the production of ore to the level specified in the Environment Clearance letters and issue show cause notices for violations," Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has said in an official document.
"It is also proposed to write to Odisha state government to take credible action against these mine projects under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, as per the facts of the case," the ministry said.
The Shah Commission has observed that there are 96 leases which have obtained much-delayed environment clearances under EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) notification and in 75 leases extraction of ore has been done after January 27, 1994.
"The 22,56,74,380 MT of iron ore and 30,71,973 MT of manganese have been extracted illegally without having lawful authority (either there was no EC obtained for the period or when obtained, the excess quantity of ore was extracted above the limit fixed by MoEF during EC approvals)," the Shah Commission has said in its report tabled in Parliament.
"All such production is to be considered as illegal and without lawful authority. The market value for iron and manganese ores is required to be recovered under the ... The Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, 1957," the report said.
The Odisha government in its action taken report, has said that it has taken steps "for initiating legal action against defaulting mines which have undertaken mining operations with valid EC".
Besides, action has already been initiated for recovery of cost price of mineral so extracted under section 31 (5) of MMDR Act, it said.
The indicted companies have said they are not in a position to comment as they are yet to access the report.