Nearly three years after the Orissa mining scam surfaced, the state’s Mines department is all set to send notices to 190 companies to pay for the ore they extracted in excess of the permissible limit.
In 2010, Orissa tasked a committee to prepare a report on the companies that had mined more iron, manganese, chromite, bauxite and limestone ore than they were allowed over the previous 10 years.
The committee found that excess ore was extracted from 190 mines, said Steel and Mines Secretary Deoranjan Kumar Singh.
The biggest offenders included Essel Mining and Industries Limited, owned by the Aditya Birla Group, which mined 206 lakh tonne iron ore more than it was allowed from just two mines, at Kasia and Jiling-Longalata in Keonjhar, between 2001 and 2006. This illegally mined ore is valued, by conservative estimates, at Rs 4,269 crore.
S R Rungta Group, another major player, extracted Rs 2,978 crore worth of excess iron and manganese ore from just six of its mines between 2003 and 2006.
Orissa Mining Corporation mined 9.63 lakh tonne excess chromite from its South Kaliapani mines in Jajpur between 2004 and 2008. The ore is valued at Rs 105 crore.
The excess ore mined by all the 190 companies would be in “thousands of crores”, Singh said.
Now, based on the committee’s report, the Mines department will raise demands against all mines that extracted more than the approved limits and recover penalties within 30 days, Singh said.
The companies will have to pay interest of 24 per cent per year on the amount generated from excess ore until they re-pay the money in full.
In the past few years, Orissa has witnessed several revelations of illegal mining. Last year, the Accountant General, in his note on illegal extraction of iron ore, revealed that Gandhamardan Sponge Iron Limited had extracted excess iron ore than the permitted 1.20 lakh tonne a year from its Putulipani mines in Keonjhar between 2004 and 2006.
In September 2006, Gandhamardan applied the Centre for environment clearance to produce 3.6 lakh tonne a year.
The clearance was granted in August 2007. But the company did not keep to even the enhanced production limit and between August 2007 and August 2009, illegally extracted 25.13 lakh tonne iron ore worth Rs 216.69 crore.