New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) Thursday allowed Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) to lift high-quality iron ore lying in Thakurani block in Keonjhar district, provided Sarda Mines Private Ltd (SMPL) pays environment compensation of Rs 933 crore.
A bench of Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said that the JSPL can only lift the iron ore after Sarda Mines pays Rs 933 crore to the state government as environmental compensation. Sarda mines was supplying high-quality ore to Naveen Jindal-led JSPL for its pellet plant in Odisha.
“Once SMPL complies with the direction, JSPL can lift the already mined, processed and royalty paid iron ore lying at the dispatch point within SMPL’s premises and transport these stocks to its plants across the country. Failure to comply with these directions shall result in any such sale being deemed legally void,” the bench said in its written order.
The apex court also permitted the SMPL to resume mining operations in the state provided the company pays Rs 933-crore compensation to the state government by February 29.
Earlier, the apex court had reserved its verdict on the petition filed by JSPL seeking permission to lift the iron ore January 16. SMPL had informed the court that it had given undertaking that it would deposit the penalty amount by the end of February 2020.
Senior advocate appearing for JSPL Mukul Rohatgi had argued in the court that it shall be permitted to lift iron ore from the site of SMPL as the company has already given undertaking to pay the dues. Rohatgi had submitted to the court that it has taken loan of Rs 2,000 crore from SBI for purchase of minerals stacked in one corner of the mine. He had also told the court that JSPL would pay the royalty for the minerals to the state.
Significantly, the Central Environment Committee report stated that the M/s SMPL during the period 2001-02 to 2010-11 has produced 135,34,703 tonnes of excess quantity/illegal production of iron ore in violation of the environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and is liable to pay Rs 933,60,79,689.
Its mining operations have been closed since March 2014. The company had approached the apex court seeking directions to resume mining operations.