With the MB Shah Commission probing the alleged Rs 76,000 crore mining scam in Orissa, the state forest department has now asked the steel and mines department to ensure that mining leases operate only with all statutory clearances including payment of Net Present Value (NPV) and forest clearance under Forest Conservation Act (FCA).
In a letter to steel and mines secretary Rajesh Verma, forest and environment special secretary Bhanu Pratap Singh has suggested that lessee should not be allowed to operate the mines until permission of the Union environment ministry under the FCA is obtained for the entire forest land coming within the lease along with fulfilment of other statutory clearances such as environmental clearance.
Singh also suggested that there be better sharing of information between the two departments on mining leases operating in the state.
Singh also wrote that the steel and mines department should ensure operation of mining lease only with all statutory clearnces including payment of NPV for entire forest land of the lease.
The NPV is the amount the user agencies have to deposit as per the a 2002 order of the Supreme Court for diversion of forest land to non-forest usage.
The NPV — intrinsic cost of the land, tangible and intangible benefits of the forest area — is charged at Rs.5.8 lakh to Rs.9.2 lakh per hectare depending on the type and density of the diverted forest land.
Singh said that the steel and mines department should suspend mining operation until NPV dues are paid by the leaseholders.
The forest and environment department also suggested that transfer of mining lease having forest land from one lessee to another should be done only with prior approval of the Union environment ministry.
Early this month, the state steel and mines department had sent penalty notice worth Rs 76,000 crore to 104 mining leaseholders including Tata Steel and Essel Mining for excess mining in their leasehold area between 2000 and 2010 as well as violations of Air Pollution and Water Pollution Act.
The MB Shah Commission is also in the process of submitting its final report on the Orissa mining scam after making three trips to Orissa for field investigation.