Goa mine owners get another 3 months to remove excavated iron ore till Jan end

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 10/14/2020 10:12:09 AM

NEW DELHI, Oct 13: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed time up to the end of January, 2021, to the lessees for the removal of the iron ore excavated/mined on or before 15.03.2018, subject to payment of royalties and other charges.
In a 13-page judgment pronounced by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, the court said the quantity of mineral to be removed by each of the lessees shall be determined by the concerned officials with reference to the records of the government maintained at the relevant point of time.
The mines in Goa are already lying shut since the Court ordered cancellation of all leases in February 2018 and ordered fresh auction of the mines with the environment clearance to restart them.
The Bench, which also comprised Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, gave liberty to the state government to invoke power under Rule 12(1)(hh) of The Minerals (Other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Minerals) Concession Rules, 2016, if the lessees could not remove the mineral within the time given. The particular rule empowers the government to confiscate the mineral not removed within six calendar months of end of the lease and dispose it of without liability to pay any compensation to the lessee.
The Court said the rule is clear that any property remaining on the lease land at the end of six calendar months after the expiry or sooner termination of the lease term and not removed by the lessee within one calendar month is liable to be confiscated.
It said the Goa Foundation may be right in contending that the state government should have invoked the rule to confiscate the mineral allegedly lying at the site for the past more than two and a half years. "But the difficulty today is that Rule 12(1)(hh) was not pressed into service before this Court when it rendered the judgment dated 30.01.2020." Hence, that judgment giving six months to the lessees to remove the material has attained finality.
Chowgule and Company Private Limited and other lessees had moved the Apex Court seeking more time to remove the iron ore lying on their sites since six months given to them in January were wasted in the formalities and delay on the part of the authorities to issue transit permits for transportation of the royalty paid ore and then the lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The time given expired on 30.07.2020. The lessees sought more time to transport the iron ore extracted on or before 15.03.2018, which was opposed by the Goa Foundation on the ground that a month's period granted to them in 2018 had included the time to remove the mined mineral.
The Court rejected the Goa Foundation's objection to the lessees can still make payment of royalty at the time of movement of the ore or they can remove only the "royalty-paid ore." It rejected the objection on the ground that the two orders of April and May 2018 had used the expression "royalty paid ore" in the context of the mineral removed from the mines and brought to the jetties on or before March 15, 2018.
As regards the mineral mined on or before that date but still lying unremoved in the lease-hold area, the Court took cognizance of the advocate general's contention that the government has complete details of the mineral already excavated on or before 15.03.2018 and as such the lessees cannot remove more than what is on the government records.



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