Govt agrees to recover Rs 3,431 cr dues from mining companies

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Panaji: The state government on Tuesday agreed to the demands of a petition filed by an NGO seeking directions to it to recover Rs 3,431 crore from mining companies on several counts within a time-bound period.

After the state’s Advocate General told the High Court of Bombay at Goa that the amount was recoverable, the High Court bench recorded the undertaking of the Goa government that orders would be passed on all the demand notices issued to the mining companies within a period of four months.

The court recorded that the director of mines would first deal with the demand notices issued (for Rs 1,508 crore) to mining companies pursuant to the report of the team of chartered accountants appointed by former chief minister late Manohar Parrikar. Thereafter, the department would enforce the notices raised pursuant to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in his 2016 report (Rs 1,922 crore). The total of both reports amounts to Rs 3431.31 crore.

The demand notices on the report of the team of chartered accountants were issued in 2016. Those pursuant to the CAG report were issued in 2017. These notices were produced by the Goa government to prove its bona fides during the hearing of the writ petition filed by the NGO challenging the grant of 88 mining leases.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment setting aside the 88 mining lease orders, has also directed the Goa government to recover the amounts for which the notices had been issued.

The NGO filed the PIL when it became apparent that the Goa government was not pursuing the matter of recovery of these huge amounts with any zeal. It sought as interim relief a restraint on grant of any mining business to any of the entities till the amounts demanded were paid by them.

Two other petitions filed by the NGO for recovery from mining companies are pending hearing before the High Court. The first involves recovery of around Rs 1,000 crore from mining companies that mined without being in possession of a valid mining lease. A second PIL demands recovery of Rs 65,058 crore due from the entire mining industry for conducting mining operations without being in possession of a mining lease for five years (2007-2012).

It may be noted that the apex court has declared all mining carried out in the state of Goa from 2007 to 2012 as illegal.