New Delhi: In a major setback to illegal iron ore miners in the country, Amicus Curiae ADN Rao has recommended to the Supreme Court to terminate mining operations of nine mining companies, including Sarada Mines, Patnaik Minerals and Zenith Mining. These companies have been named in the Shah Commission Report in addition to the SC-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) as having illegally mined iron ore worth several thousand crores over many years.
Rao told the apex court that all these leases stood lapsed but the government of Odisha had in some cases passed orders extending these leases. Rao observed that the extension of these leases should be struck down because of the grave nature of illegalities committed by these mining companies.
All the nine mine leases will be put to re-auction, in case the Supreme Court cancels them on Rao’s recommendation. The government, which had recently amended the Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act and the Mineral Concession Rules, stands to gain thousands of crores of rupees through the re-auction.
Rao severely indicted Sarada Mines Pvt Ltd which operates the Thakurani Mines, KJS Ahluwalia who operates the Nuagaon Mine, Serajuddin & Co operating the Balda Mines in Keonjhar along with others. He argued that their leases should be terminated since they had failed to comply with three crucial conditions of the Mineral Concession Rules, 2016. These include their violations with regard to sale of iron ore at prices lower than the fair market value to other buyers, sharing profits and paying substantially higher amounts for contracting operations to a third party.
Rao also reminded the SC of a CEC report of 2014 that had clearly identified some of these miners as illegal and its recommendations that 70 per cent of the notional value of the illegal ore mined should be recovered from these companies.
Rao also asked the SC to direct the companies to deposit 30 per cent of the value of illegal ore mined by these companies with the court till India’s highest court arrives at a judgment about the fate of the leases. The SC had appointed Rao as Amicus Curiae to assist the court in a writ petition filed by NGO Common Cause.
Published Date: Mar 17, 2016