BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has asked the State Government to stop mining operation at the Thakurani iron ore block in Keonjhar district by Sarada Mines Private Limited (SMPL) and initiate action against the lease-holder for violation of Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Writing to the Forest and Environment department, the MoEF&CC advised not to give consent to operate the mines till the project is granted environmental clearance by the State Pollution Control Board.The Ministry has further directed to take action under sections 15/19 of the EPA, 1986 against SMPL for carrying out mining operation without environment clearance (EC) and production of minerals in excess of the EC capacity.
“In cases of violation, action will be taken against the project proponent by the respective State or State Pollution Control Board under the provisions of section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and further, no consent to operate or occupancy certificate will be issued till the project is granted the environmental clearance,” the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry noted in its May 29 meeting.
The EAC is of the view that mining operation by Sarada Mines is case of violation and it should not be allowed to operate.The Supreme Court had in January given a relief to SMPL by allowing it to resume
mining operations at Thakurani iron-ore mines provided it paid around `933 crore towards environmental compensation to the State Government and gave an undertaking to comply with all the rules, regulations and other mandatory provisions for carrying out mining operations.
The matter was examined by the MoEF&CC after receiving complaints from different quarters and representation made by lease holder. The Ministry referred the matter to Ministry of Law which said that the EC granted to Sarada Mines in 2008 had lost validity in 2013-14.
“Resumption of mining operation is contrary to the law and direction of the Supreme Court on January 15, 2020,” the Law Ministry said asking MoEF&CC to take appropriate action.The Thakurani mines of SMPL was a supplier of iron ore to Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) plant. The Centre’s order for closure of Thakurani Mines will seriously impact JSPL and could further aggravate the shortage of ore that secondary suppliers have been complaining about.