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SC stays iron ore mining by firms with expired leases

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered interim stay on iron ore mining in Odisha by companies whose lease agreements have expired and were not renewed by the state government. A bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik said that operation with respect to 26 leases would remain suspended till the companies get their agreement renewed by the state government.

‘After considering the report of the CEC (Central Empowered Committee) as well as the submissions on behalf of the parties, 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 in terms of Section 8(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957,’ it said.

It also directed the state government to consider and dispose of all renewal applications within six months.
The apex court also directed that 102 mining leases which do not have requisite environmental clearances and approvals shall remain suspended till they are cleared by the authorities.

‘We find that 102 mining leases do not have requisite environmental clearances, approvals under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, approved Mining Plan and/or Consent to Operate. The CEC has, however, stated in the report that mining operations in these 102 mining leases have been suspended and these 102 mining leases have been classified as non-working leases.

‘We direct that mining operations in these 102 mining leases of the report of the CEC shall remain suspended, but it will be open to such lessees to move the concerned authorities for environmental clearances,’ it said.
The court-appointed CEC in its report said that a large number of mining leases in the state had been operational long after the expiry of the lease period.

The CEC said 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.
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