The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the central government to revise by December-end the decade-old National Mineral Policy 2008, particularly with regard to conservation and mineral development, to stop rampant illegal mining in the country. A bench headed by justice Madan B Lokur said the policy effective from 2008 “seems to be only on paper and is not being enforced perhaps due to the involvement of very powerful vested interests or a failure of nerve”.
The policy is almost a decade old and a lot of changes have taken place since then, it said, adding that the “rapacious” and “indiscriminate” mining operations in Odisha and several parts of the country have gone unchecked due to lack of any effective mining policy. It also imposed a 100% penalty on illegal iron ore mining on account of lack of forest and environment clearances, mining outside lease-permitted area and for mining in excess of what has been permitted. While the state government had imposed about Rs 60,000-crore penalty on mine lease-holders for illegal mining between 2000 and 2010, the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee had recommended that at least 30% notional value may be realised from the mining companies.
The bench said that the amounts determined as due from all the mining lease-holders should be deposited by them on or before December 31.
The mining lease-holders can re-start their mining operations only after compliance with statutory requirements and full payment of compensation and other dues, it added.