New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Wednesday slapped a 100% penalty on illegal mining on account of lack of forest and environment clearances and mining outside lease/permitted area. The apex court also asked the illegal miners to pay the penalty by December 31, 2017.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta also directed for an judicial enquiry into the alleged illegal mining and also noted that the National Mineral Policy (NMP) of 2008 required review and would accordingly be amended by December 31, 2017.
The court’s direction had come in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Common Cause. The petitioner, on behalf of the NGO, had moved to the SC in April, 2014 seeking action against leases indicted by the MB Shah Commission on illegal mining. He also wanted a CBI investigation into connivance of officials that had allowed, what the state unintentionally had acknowledged, was a Rs 63,000 crore scam.
During the course of hearings, the court had appointed a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to look into illegal activities by mining companies and furnish a report on it.
The CEC had sought to ascertain the factual position of mining lessees that obtained approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and secured environment clearances in Odisha.
After the SC judgment, Principal Secretary of Steel and Mines department RK Sharma said, “The state government will take appropriate action according to the SC order after getting the judgment copy. However, there are no illegal practices in mining sector now as all process related to the mining have been done with transparency”, he said.
Meanwhile, reacting over the SC ruling, BJD Government chief whip Amar Satpathy said, “The Government has never encouraged for illegal mining. A departmental inquiry was also done earlier in this regard”, he said.