The Supreme Court Thursday said it was “not averse” to allowing Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) to transport high quality iron ore lying stacked at non-functional Sarda Mines for its pellet plant in Odisha while reserving its verdict in the case.
The top court took on record an undertaking from Sarda Mines Pvt Ltd (SMPL) for payment of Rs 933 crore towards environmental compensation to the state government.
SMPL was a supplier of a high quality ore to Naveen Jindal-led JSPL plant and was closed on March 31, 2014, for want of environment clearances.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said it would pass a detailed order in the case filed by the Odisha government against the high court order which had allowed transportation of iron ore.
The bench said it was not averse to allowing transporting of iron-ore but all the necessary dues and royalty payable be paid to the concerned authorities.
It said the court was reserving the verdict and would pass a detailed order later.
The counsel for SMPL said the top court had on Wednesday allowed it to resume the mining operation at Thakurani iron-ore mines provided it makes the payment of its dues to the state government within a month.
He sought time till February end to comply with the direction of payment on the ground that the mine was closed for over five years and the company did not have any earning.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for JSPL, said it has taken loan of Rs 2,000 crore from SBI for purchase of minerals stacked in one corner of the mine.
He said JSPL will pay the royalty for the minerals to the state.
The top court had also asked SMPL to file an undertaking to comply with all the rules, regulations and other mandatory provisions for carrying out mining operations.
The apex court had said that upon the fulfilment of these conditions — payment of dues and filing of undertaking — SMPL can resume its mining operations in the leased area for the remainder of its lease period.
The CEC in its report of May 8, 2019, had said that the SMPL during the period between 2001-02 to 2010-11 has produced 135,34,703 tonnes of excess quantity of iron-ore in violation of the EC granted by Ministry of Environment and Forests and assessed the dues towards compensation as around Rs 933 crore.
Odisha government and the CEC had expressed no objection to the prayer of SMPL for resuming of operation at the mines provided it deposited the assessed dues and strictly comply with all other mandatory rules, regulations and conditions for conducting mining operations.