New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) The Supreme Court today allowed Aditya Birla group firm Essel Mining and Industries Limited (EMIL) to resume operations at two of its iron ore mines in Odisha after the company submitted that it has paid a penalty of Rs 1,717 crore.

EMIL, one of the largest Indian iron ore mining firms, is the mining lease holder of Jilling-Langalotta, Koira and Kasia mines in Odisha.

A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur considered the submission of senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for the firm, and said, “this is not in dispute that whatever amounts are due in terms of the judgment of this court dated August 2, 2017 along with interest with regard to the Jilling-Langalotta, Koira and Kasia mines have been paid.” “Under these circumstances, the state of Odisha may permit the applicant to resume mining in the Jilling-Langalotta and Koira mines,” the bench, which also comprised Justice Deepak Gupta, said.

The counsel for Aditya Birla group firm said the penalty of Rs 1,717 crore, determined by the state government, has been paid and clearances have been obtained with respect to the two mines.

Chidambaram also said that with regard to Kasia mines in the state, all clearances have not been obtained yet and, therefore, “the question of permitting resumption of mining in Kasia mines does not arise for the present.” The apex court declined the plea by Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO ‘Common Cause’, that the issue of environment clearance (EC) given to the firm be re-looked as there were irregularities in the grant of EC to it by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

The court said that it cannot expand the scope of the hearing.

The apex court had earlier asked the Odisha government to recover 100 per cent compensation keeping in mind the cost of excess mining from the defaulting miners.

The court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had recommended levy of 30 per cent of the total cost of iron ore illegally mined by the firms.

The apex court, on August 2 last year, had asked the mining firms, allegedly involved excess mining, to deposit the penalty, to be fixed by the state government, by December 31, 2017. It had also ordered that the penalty amount be utilised for the benefit of tribals in the affected districts and for area development work.

The court had asked the Centre to have a re-look at its old National Mineral Policy of 2008 particularly with regard to conservation and mineral development.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.