The Supreme Court of India has ordered mining firms operating in the state of Odisha without environmental approval to pay a 100% fine on the price of large quantities of unlawfully extracted iron and manganese ores.
The firms have been asked to pay the penalty to the state for mining illegally from the period of 2000-01, and the penalty will have to be paid before the end of this year.
Affected firms include Tata Steel and Essel Mining & Industries, as well as state-run organisations such as Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), reported The Wire.
The court also ordered the establishment of an expert committee under the guidance of a retired top court judge to see if there have been any lapses over the years that led to unmonitored illegal mining in the state, reported Press Trust of India.
This panel will recommend measures to stop illegal mining in the state.
The court also ordered the Indian government to relook at the National Mineral Policy, 2008 as it is almost a decade old and wanted this exercise to complete by the end of this year.
In the judgement, the court stated: "We make it clear that minerals extracted either without environmental clearance or without forest clearance or without both will attract the provisions of section 21 (5) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and that 100% of the price of the illegally or unlawfully mined mineral must be compensated by the mining lease holder."
The court gave its verdict after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by NGO Common Cause, which had sought intervention to cease illegal mining in the state.