The Supreme Court, on August 2, 2017, has issued an order with respect to the illegal mining in the state of Odisha and has stated that a 100% penalty shall be imposed on such companies who commit such an offence.
This order has come as a progressive yet a severe blow to such companies who have been operating without necessary clearances within the State. Mining has a drastic effect on the environment, let alone a severe effect on the health of the workers as well as he people residing near such mines.
The Order of the Hon’ble Court has come as a relief to such people along with the environment. While the State Government imposes Rs 60,000 crore penalty on mines for illegal mining between 2000 and 2010, the Central Empowered Committee, appointed by the apex court, has recommended that at least 30% notional value may be realized from the mining companies.
The Judgment was given after a Public Interest Litigation was filed by the Non Governmental Organization, Common Cause, which had called for CBI Inquiry into the illegal mining operations that were recorded by the Justice MB Shah Commission. The petitioners had alleged that these companies were carrying out such operations in excess of what was the limit, thus creating a huge adverse impact on the environment.
The Hon’ble Bench, however, rather than ordering a CBI inquiry into the same, issued directions to set up to “identify the lapses that have occurred over the years that have enabled rampant illegal and unlawful mining in Odisha”. The panel will also have to recommend preventive measures not only to Odisha, but to all states in general.
The Bench held that, “The amounts determined as due from all the mining lease holders should be deposited by them on or before December 31, 2017. Subject to and only after compliance with statutory requirements and full payment of compensation and other dues, the mining lease holders can re-start their mining operations.”
The Court further directed the Centre to develop a new mining policy, one that takes into account “the advent of rapacious mining in several parts of the country”, calling for the new law to be “more effective, meaningful and implementable”,