BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has lost its case against Indrani Patnaik in the court of Revision Authority (Tribunal) of Ministry of Mines. The Authority set aside the showcause notice issued to the petitioner for determination (cancellation) of mining lease.
‘’I observe that there is no shred of evidence adduced in any of the allegations/findings. I also observed that the entire exercise of the State Government has been handled in an unprofessional manner,’’ Director of Mines and Revision Authority in the Ministry Suresh Kishnani said in his recent order.
Lambasting the State Government for not following the established procedure, the Tribunal said, ‘’Principles of natural justice and established law and procedures have not been followed. Hit and run approach like in this case will lead to real illegal miners getting emboldened.’’
‘’Menace of illegal mining cannot be curbed in this way. Justice, fair play and due process have to be followed. Justice not only should be done but appears to be done. None of these is existing in this case,’’ the Tribunal said.
The Revision Authority also rejected the State Government’s demand of ` 1,131.72 crore as recoverable from Indrani for sale of excess ore saying the State Government has not given any basis for calculating the iron ore price at ` 6,000 per tonne. As per the benchmark price of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the export price of iron ore, which includes royalty and transportation, was hovering around $ 50 to 70 per tonne.
‘’I reject such a price as purely imaginary and inflated,’’ Kishnani said in his order.
The State Government had issued showcause notices to three mining lease-holders, including Indrani, on charges of violating Mineral Concession Rules. The other two mine owners are KJS Ahluwallia and TP Sao. The charges against the three were that they illegally sub-leased mines allotted to them which is a violation of Rule 37 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, said Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty.
An expert committee, comprising officers from Mines and Commercial Tax departments, a chartered accountant and financial advisors, verified records of eight mining lease-holders. The committee detected violations in case of three lease-holders.
Even as the State Government cancelled the mining lease of Arjun Ladha and refused to renew the lease of Ram Bahadur Thakur Limited (RBTL), the two companies have filed petitions with the Revision Authority.