Thursday, 11 September 2014 – 5:05am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
Prabhati Nayak Mishra


Top steel and mining companies, including Sarda mines linked to Jindal group, Aditya Birla group’s Essel Mining in Odisha have come under the scanner of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up by the Supreme Court to unearth Black money.

Justice Arijit Passayat, vice-chairman of SIT on black money, held a meeting with government officials at Cuttack in Odisha on August 24 to figure out if mining companies, which generate huge illegal income by drawing more than the allotted quantity of ore, stash it away as black money.

The former Supreme Court judge met officials from income tax department, Enforcement Directorate, customs and port and examined the documents pertaining to Mesco, Sirajuddin Co, Kalinga mines, besides Essel Mining and Sarda mines.

Justice Passayat will take up the issue for discussion in SIT’s next meeting scheduled for September 11 and 12 to discuss about the investigation done so far and the related issues on black money.

SIT’s reasoning to investigate these companies is based on the findings and recommendations of the judicial panel headed by Justice MB Shah, who is also currently chairman of the SIT on black money, into the illegal minings in the state.

Justice Shah in his report, submitted on October 2013, had put the Odisha illegal mining figure at Rs59,000 crore.

In Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts, 79 companies, including Tata Steel, Essel Mining, Orissa Mining Corporation and M/s Serajuddin dug up iron ore and manganese much beyond the permissible level. The total amount of iron ore extracted from those between 2005-06 and 2011-12 was 5,24,142 million tonne. It’s total sale value has been placed at Rs19,99,847.5 crore.

The commission had opined that a meager amount of the average income from the sale of iron ore between 2004-05 to 2011-12 was utilised for providing basic facilities such as drinking water, roads, hospitals and schools in the locality.

In July this year, the central empowered committee (CEC), appointed by the top court to look into illegal mining activities, has been examining the alleged illegal tie-ups between Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) and Sarda Mines.

The SC direction followed a plea which alleged that Sarda Mines had sold iron ore to Naveen Jindal’s firm JSPL at a rate cheaper than the market rate which resulted in a loss of Rs8,000 crore to the government. CEC is likely to submit its final report to SC on September 15. The panel on black money has to submit its report before SC by November 11.