Bhubaneswar: Even as the Supreme Court has given December 31 as the deadline to the mine owners to pay penalties worth Rs 17,000 crore, only Rs 4,000 crore has been collected in the State till now.
Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick said that by December 31, Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore more is expected to be collected from 46 owners of mines, which are functional. Sources said 106 mine owners have expressed their inability to pay the penalties. Former Directorate of Mines Director BK Mohanty said the 106 mine owners, who have not paid penalties, can approach the apex court for some more time. Otherwise, the State Government would have no other option but to cancel the lease of these mines and auction them.
Meanwhile, uncertainty looms large with regard to the future of lakhs of people who are directly or indirectly dependent upon the operation of mines in the Joda-Barbil mining sector.
The Supreme Court in its orders on August 2, 2017 had ordered the State Government to collect fines from the mines owners as recommended by SEC for illegal mining by December 31 2017, but in Keonjhar till today around Rs 2,400 crore out of Rs 12,000 crore has been collected from Tata Steel, Rungta Mines, SN Mohanty, KC Pradhan while only three days are left to reach the deadline and around 20 leaseholders have not deposited their penalty.
If this situation persists and mines owners fail to deposit their amount, defaulting mines would be closed as per orders of the Supreme Court and more than lakhs of people will be thrown out of job, apprehended trade union leader Maheswar Rout.
Further, there is a shadow over steel industries which have been set up in Kalinganagar and other areas of Odisha which are dependent upon the mines here for supply of iron ore to their factories.
In this regard, when DDM, Joda SK Nayak was contacted, he said there shouldn’t be any panic. Everybody should wait up to December 31 and hope that all the penalty will be collected and mines will operate and the Government is there to take care of the situation if anything untoward happens.