With 127 of the mining leaseholders having secured stay from the Union mines ministry’s revisionary authority over Orissa government’s demand for penalties, the state government has suggested that the ministry give the revisionary power to an independent tribunal or regulatory body.
In July 2012, Orissa government had slapped penalty of Rs 76,000-odd crore on 294 miners for extracting ore in excess of the limits set in the mining plan as well as mining over and above the limit approved under the provisions of Environment(Protection) Act, 1986.
Most of the miners then appealed to the revisionary authority in the Union mines ministry against the order and managed to secure a stay. With mining revenue collections on a sharp decline this year, Orissa’s hopes for some revenue from the penalty has been dashed.
Sources in the state mining department said that penalty worth Rs 40,000 crore have been stayed by the revisionary authority of the Union mines ministry.
In its suggestion on the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2014, the Orissa mining department said the revision power of the mines ministry has been abused in the past as pointed out by Justice MB Shah Commission of inquiry.
“As the High Courts have powers under their writ jurisdiction to redress the grievance of the mineral concession applicants the revision powers by the Central government is unnecessary unless the power is exercised by an independent tribunal or regulatory body,” the state government said in a letter to the ministry on Wednesday.
Orissa has also suggested the mines ministry to make provisions for reservation of mine leases for its PSUs. It also wants to add chromite to the list of notified minerals as it has more than 93 per cent of the country’s chromite reserve. The state should have also the power to notify the minerals for auction.
Orissa also said it wants royalty levied and collected by the state government on major and minor minerals a cess at a rate not exceeding 10 per cent of the royalty.