Stating that the company failed to respond to two reminders as well as a hearing, the Goa government has fined JSW Steel Limited more than Rs 156 crore towards unpaid cess under Goa Rural Improvement and Welfare Cess Act, 2001, for transport of coal.
According to a notice sent by the government on November 9, which emerged late Monday night, the company was given time up to November 24 (Tuesday) to pay the amount. JSW is among 19 corporates issued notices — in all, cess dues have been estimated at over Rs 200.73 crore, including JSW’s purported liability of over Rs 156.34 crore.
In a statement on Tuesday, JSW said it has challenged the matter in High Court and it will come up for hearing on November 26. “JSW defended the challenge on maintainability of the petition by stating that the constitutional vires of the Act was being challenged in the instant case, which did not require the issuance of any particular notice,” the company said in a statement.
Under the 2001 law, owners of all “carrier transporting material” are supposed to pay a cess under schedule-I, with the amount going towards rural improvement. Goa government has estimated this cost at Rs 50 per ton for 3,12,69,986 metric ton of coal transported through Mormugao Port Trust to the JSW plant in Karnataka between July 2014 and July 2018, the notice stated.
According to officials, the first notice was issued on September 9 this year, and the second on September 29, both of which received no response from the company. The company also failed to appear in the hearing, and later, on October 13, sought more time citing Covid-19 restrictions, officials said. The letter was sent by South Margao office of Transport to JSW Steel Limited’s Mumbai head office.
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