The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre and others on various pleas filed by mining companies, including Essel Mining and Industries, seeking permission to resume operations in Odisha.
A bench headed by Justice JS Khehar issued notice to the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), the Odisha government, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and others after the mining firms sought modification of its May 16, 2014 order that directed temporary closure of nearly half of the iron ore mines in the top producing state due to non-renewal of years-old leases.
The apex court had suspended mining operations of 102 mines which did not have requisite environmental and forest clearances, approved mining plans and/or consent to operate. While classifying them as non-working leases, the apex court had then allowed them to approach it for modification of the order after getting all the required clearances.
The court-appointed CEC in its report had said that a large number of mining leases in the state had been operational long after the expiry of the lease period. The CEC had stated that there were 187 iron ore and manganese mines in Odisha and out of these 56 were functional while 131 did not have required statutory approvals or their leases have lapsed and are not operational.
Seeking permission to resume mining operations, Essel in its fresh plea stated that it had obtained all the statutory clearances for operating its JillingLongalotta Iron & Manganese Mines spread over 456 hectare in villages Jajang, Juruli, Jalahuri, Bholbeda & Banspani, and Baitarani Reserve Forest in district of Keonjhar. Essel’s JillingLongalotta Iron & Manganese Mines were included in the list of 102 nonworking leases since it did not have forest clearance.
Essel has five mines in Odisha — Koira Iron Mines situated at Nuagaon, Kadodiha and Koira in district Sundergarh, JillingLongalotta Iron & Manganese Mines situated at Jurudi in district Keonjhar, Kasia Iron and Dolomite Mines situated at Kasia in district Keonjhar, Unchbali Iron and Manganese Mines situated at Unchbali in district Keonjhar and Sarkunda Manganese Mines situated at Sarkunda in district Sundergarh.