August 20, 2017 1:45:40 am
A week after Supreme Court made a scathing comment that “influence in high places” was used in granting a Dadam village stone mine to Sunder Marketing Associates by the Haryana government and upheld the cancellation order on it, the issue has again reached the apex court with a bidder alleging that extensive mining was being carried out at the mine to affect its commercial value.
The Supreme Court, on August 11, had given an extension to SMA to continue the mining operations till November 30. The fresh application filed by Ved Pal Tanwar, who had last year given an undertaking before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that he would place a minimum bid of Rs 150 crore if the mine was put to fresh auction, is listed for hearing on Monday before the two-judge bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta. The apex court bench, while issuing a closure plan for the stone mine, had allowed SMA to continue to the mining operations to allow it put the closure plan in operation and said all the laws shall be strictly enforced to the company by the state government “regardless of its apparent influence in high places” and warned that the state Chief Secretary will be held “responsible for any lapse in this regard.”
Tomar, in the fresh application before the Supreme Court, has said that following the extension of four months, SMA has “sped up the process of excavation, without following the norms of the mining plan and rules and regulations prescribed by the mining authority.” He has also attached photographs of the mine with his plea, saying the company under the interim protection granted by the court has mined till the ground water level at the site. “It is submitted that the applicant has proof in form of photographs to state that the excessive mining is carried out…due to which water bodies are formed and it has gone to the ground water level. The above said facts has been confirmed by the concerned Dadam Gram Panchayat,” he has said in the petition filed by his counsel Deepak Prakash.
“The mining action plan, which was to be implemented over a period of one year, is set to be implemented in a manner so that the quantities to be extracted in a period of 12 months can be extracted within the permissible scope and thus severely disturbing the mining area and the mining prospects,” the petition reads. The fresh bidding process for the mine worth Rs 115 crore per year and spread over 55 acres of land in Bhiwani district’s Dadam village will be completed this month. Mines and Geology department had issued an e-auction notice for the mine last month after a division bench of the High Court had asked the state government to complete the tender process by August 31.
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Stating that the extension granted by the Supreme Court for the mining operations will change the commercial viability of the mining area, Tomar has sought modification of the extension orders in the judgment dated August 11 saying the circumstances at the mine have changed since he had given undertaking last December. This issue of Dadam mine has snowballed into a major controversy in Haryana after the Supreme Court observations that influence was used to grant the mining lease to SMA when the company, on its own, was not a qualified bidder for the project. Congress has hit out at the BJP government for the alleged corruption in the mining case.
The case dates back to 2015 when the government initially had allowed the transfer of 51 per cent shares of SMA’s joint venture partner Karamjeet Singh and Company Limited to the former after the latter sought to cancel the contract with the government. Later, SMA, in a letter to the Chief Minister, said they wanted to continue operate the mine even if their partner intended to surrender their share. The government had allowed it but later withdrawn its own permission apparently because of a petition filed by Tomar in the High Court.
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