Providing relief to mining company Sarda Mines Pvt Ltd., the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed it to resume its mining operations in Odisha subject to deposit of Rs 933 crore towards environmental compensation by February 29.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant also allowed the Naveen Jindal-led JSPL to transport high-quality iron ore lying in the Thakurani block mines is SMPL. The top court, however, made it clear that JSPL can transport the iron-ore only after SMPL pays Rs 933 crore towards compensation for the environment.
While reserving its verdict in the case on January 16, the apex court had said it was “not averse” to allowing Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) to transport the high-quality iron ore lying stacked at the non-functional Sarda Mines for its pellet plant in Odisha.
The top court had earlier taken 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 high-quality ore to the Naveen Jindal-led JSPL plant and was closed on March 31, 2014, for want of environment clearances. The counsel for SMPL had earlier told the top court that it had on January 15 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 had sought time till the end of February 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 earnings.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for JSPL, had said it has taken loan of Rs 2,000 crore from SBI for purchase of minerals stacked in one corner of the mine. He had said JSPL will pay the royalty for the minerals to the state.