BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha High Court on Monday stayed the operation of the State Government order declaring the mining lease of eight mine owners as lapsed.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Indrajit Mohanty and Justice Biswanath Rath has directed the State Government not to initiate any coercive action against the petitioners without leave of this court.
The court has further directed the State Government to file counter and posted the matter for hearing on June 17.
The mining lessees which have challenged the lapsing order of the Steel and Mines department include Odisha Managanese and Minerals (OMM) Pvt Ltd of the Adhunik Group, Tarini Mierals Pvt Ltd, Avin Jain, KMC Mining Corporation and Narayani and Sons Pvt Ltd.
Describing the Government order as arbitrary, the affected lessees moved the High Court on May 6 as they were not given an opportunity to be heard by the department.
The State Government issued show cause notice to the five lease holders under section 28 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 and Section of 4A(4) of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
As per the MMDR Act if a lease holder fails to undertake mining operations for a period of two years after the date of execution of the lease or having commenced mining operations, has discontinued the same for a period of two years, the lease will lapse on the expiry of the period of two years from the date of execution of the lease or discontinuance of the mining operations.
The State Government refused to grant extension of mining lease on the grounds that the lease of the eight mines has lapsed. It did not give a reasonable opportunity to the affected lease holders to be heard, the petitioners said.
The eight affected mines are part of the 102 non-working mines whose operation was suspended due to lack of statutory clearances and this was reported to the Supreme Court by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).
The Supreme Court had ordered that mining operation of the 102 mines will remain suspended till they obtain necessary statutory clearances. The apex court had allowed the lease holders to file application for modified order after obtaining statutory clearances.
The state government's order declaring their leases as lapsed has violated the apex court order, the petitioners contended in their applications.
The eight mines were among the 11 mines taken up by the inter-departmental committee for consideration for extension of mining lease recently.