Government wants Andhra mine iron ore sale ban till CBI probe

May 3rd, 2011 - 12:37 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The government Monday told the Supreme Court that the iron ore stock excavated by the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) in Andhra Pradesh should not be sold till the CBI has completed its probe into allegations of illegal mining against the company.

Attorney General G. Vahanvati told the apex court that iron ore lying in the stockyard would not suffer any damage and the Central Bureau of Investigation would take another three to four months to complete its probe.

The Supreme Court Monday asked the Andhra Pradesh government to file an affidavit stating that the iron ore belonging to OMC would not deteriorate during the rainy season.

The apex court forest bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Panickar Radhakrishnan also asked the Andhra Pradesh government to state that the iron ore excavated by OMC was lying in the stockyard and if the CBI wanted the material to be kept intact.

The court directed OMC to furnish letter dated Feb 15, 2011, addressed by it to the Tax Recovery Officer, Bangalore. The OMC is seeking the court’s nod to sell its about 2.5 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore lying at mines in Andhra Pradesh to enable the company to pay taxes.

The tax to be paid by OMC is Rs.184 crore and notice for it has been issued to the OMC Pvt Ltd.

The apex court by its May 10, 2010, order had allowed OMC to resume its mining operation in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh but halted it on March 22, 2011, after court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on environmental and forest matters recommended cancellation of OMC’s mining operations after it discovered violation of environmental laws by the company.

The OMC owns mining leases in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh and has attracted the allegation of indulging in illegal mining by encroaching upon forest lands adjoining their mining leases.

The matter will come up for hearing when the apex court reopens after summer vacation in July.

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