Mining over the limit
The penalty notices followed a decision by the steel and mines department in July after the department found that 104 mines had raised ore in excess of the quantity approved by Indian Bureau of Mines in the mining plan/scheme at various times during the period of 10 years. Besides, 190 mines were found to have produced over and above the limit approved under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Incidentally, state-owned PSU Orissa Mining Corporation was also slapped a showcause notice for excess production.
Officials in the department said that as per the existing rules, any miner, before digging, needs to obtain from the Orissa Pollution Control Board a consent-to-operate (CTO) certificate that stipulates the quantity of ore that can be mined in a year. The quantity has to be approved by the IBM.
Mining companies, an association of miners and former mining department officials said, however, that the government order is flawed and can be challenged in the mining tribunal on the argument that a Union Mines Ministry notification of July 26, 2012, making changes in Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, will have rendered the state’s present showcause notice null and void.
Under the changed rules, the Centre defines illegal mining as any reconnaissance, prospecting or mining undertaken in any area without holding a permit, a licence or a lease as required under sub-section 1 of section 4 of the Act. For mining leaseholders, the rules say violation of any rules other than