BHUBANESWAR : The State government has asked Sarada Mines Pvt Ltd (SMPL) to stop production of iron ore from Thakurani mines immediately. Sarada Mines, which has been in legal tangle with the government over violation of several provisions of MMDR Act-1957 in mining operation, is again found to have gone for excess mining beyond approved environmental clearance (EC).
In a letter to SMPL director Arjun Saraswat, the Joint Director of Mines, Joda Circle in Keonjhar district said the company had crossed the pro-rata limit of iron ore production in April and May this year. “You are supposed to make production of 14,62,365.462 tonne of iron ore on pro-rata basis of the quantity stipulated in EC granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on September 22, 2004 during the remaining period of the lease from April 1, 2021 to August 13, 2021,” the letter said.
It is verified from the i3MS, an IT-based integrated mines and minerals management system, that the company has already achieved production of 22,75,848 tonne from April (15,03,794 tonne) to May 20 (7,72,054 tonne) crossing the pro-rata limit of production. “You are, therefore requested to stop production of iron ore in the mines immediately,” the Joint Director said.
The Joint Director had served demand notice of `2,056 crore to SMPL for carrying out mining operations without EC and production of minerals in excess of the EC capacity. The Directorate had issued show cause notices to the company on October 6, 2020 and January 7, 2021 for the excess production.
In response to the notices, the company had submitted a reply on January 25. Finding the reply not satisfactory, the Directorate issued the demand notice. The company has been directed to make the payment of the compensation through online.
Thakurani block of SMPL was a supplier of iron ore to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. Sarada Mines had moved to Delhi High Court in September last year immediately after the Centre asked the State government to stop mining operation at Thakurani iron ore block and initiate action against the lease holder for violation of Environment Protection Act, 1986. However, SMPL got relief from Delhi High Court which stayed the execution of the order of MoEF to Odisha government.