SC imposes limited ban on iron ore, manganese mining in Odisha
The Supreme Court Friday imposed a limited ban on 26 mining leases for iron ore and manganese in Odisha, operating on deemed second renewal without any express orders of renewal by the state government.
A green bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik, Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla in their interim order said: "We direct as an interim measure that these 26 leases operating as second and subsequent renewals without any express orders of renewal passed by the state government will not be allowed to operate by the state government until express orders are passed."
Referring to green bench's verdict in Goa mines case, the court said that under rule 24A(6) of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, the provision of deemed renewal is not available for the second and subsequent renewals of a mining lease.
Pronouncing the order, Justice Patnaik said, "Hence, these 26 leases cannot be allowed to be operated until the state government passes express orders after it forms an opinion that in the interests of mineral development it is necessary to renew the leases and after it records reasons for renewal of the leases in respect of the minerals."
"We also direct that all renewal applications under section 8(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 will be considered and disposed of by the state government within six months from today."
The court further directed that Odisha government to consider first the renewal applications for mining leases which were granted for captive mining for providing iron or manganese ore as raw material for industries and only thereafter consider the renewal applications of the other leases.
In any case, the court said that Odisha government will ensure that the entire process of consideration and disposal of renewal applications under section 8(3) of the act is completed within six months from Friday.
Besides this, the court said that mining activity in respect of 102 mining leases which are under suspension will continue to be so.
However, it said it would be open to such lessees to move the concerned authorities for environmental and forest clearances including approval of mining plan.
The court said that "as and when the mining lessees are able to obtain all the clearances/approval/consent, they may move this court for modification of this interim order in relation to their cases".
In respect of another 29 mining leases which have been determined to have been rejected or have lapsed, the court said that mining operation would remain suspended.
However, the court said that but it will be "open for the lessees of these 29 mining leases to move the concerned authorities or the court or the tribunal for necessary relief".
As and when, the court said that these category mines lease holders get "appropriate relief from the concerned authorities or the court or the tribunal, they may move this court for modification of this interim order in relation to their cases".
The court said that in respect of 16 cases where mining leases have been executed and another 14 are operating on first renewal, the iron ore/manganese mining activity would continue.
(Posted on 16-05-2014)