Odisha slaps Rs 1306 cr fine on MCL for illegal coal mining

The state government has asked the Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), to pay a fine of Rs 1,306 crore for mining coal without environment clearance in the Ib valley area.

It said, MCL had resorted to illegal extraction of coal in the absence of statutory clearances and therefore, is liable to pay the penalty amount. Earlier, the Deputy Director of Mines (DDM), Sambalpur circle, had issued a demand notice to MCL for payment of Rs 862.58 crore as fine. But the state steel and mines secretary has sent another letter recently to MCL ordering it to pay Rs 1,306 crore towards the dues calculated for realisation of the cost price of the coal mined illegally.

 The bill was prepared as per the observation of the Deputy Accountant General (R&A), Odisha. The revised bill was sent after the observation of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) regarding the short assessment of cost price of coal mined illegally in the areas not having environment license.

When contacted, director finance, MCL, Kulamani Biswal said, “We have not violated any law. So the state government cannot impose any fine or penalty on us. Being a Central sector PSU, we abide by all rules. There is no question of MCL paying any fine illegally raised on us. We will take appropriate action after we look into the notice”.

However, the state steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty has asked the Steel and Mines Department to take appropriate steps to check illegal extraction of coal by MCL, government sources said.

This is second time, MCL has run into problems with the state authorities on environment issues. Earlier this month, the deputy director of mines, Talcher circle, had served closure notices on nine out of 11 mines of MCL, urging the coal authorities to stop all mining activities including despatch of coal, on the ground that the ‘Consent to Operate’ issued by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to these mines in Talcher region had expired on March 31.

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