hubaneswar: The Odisha government exhibited its steely determination to recover the penalty money from the erring mine lessees  as per the supreme court order.

The state steel & mines principal secretary, RK Sharma, who is known for his cool temperament, Friday showed internal boldness when it comes to punish the defaulters. Sharma was really bold enough that day when he told the mine lease holders of the state that the state would take hard decision if required be to recover the penalty amount.

“If you owe money to the government and you think that it will forget, then you should remember that the government has elephant type memory. We will be making all-out efforts to recover the penalty from the defaulting mines,” said Sharma, while speaking at a roundtable on Odisha mining scenario organised by FICCI , here on Friday.

As  per the supreme court order, 131 defaulting mine owners are to cough up Rs 17,576 crore penalty by December 31, 2017. However, only a handfull have complied to the state government’s notices and paid a total of Rs 10,000 crore.

While several non-working mines are yet to pay the imposed penalty, the state government had closed down seven working mines including six iron ore and one manganese mines, which have not paid the full compensation amount.

The supreme court, meanwhile on January 30,2018,  has directed the state government to recover the remaining amount from the lessees levying 12% interest from December 31, 2017. The court has asked the state government to adopt coercive measures like assets attachments to recover the amount.

Referring to the pleas of the mine owners that closure of mines creates supply problem, the steel & mines principal secretary said, “I don’t expect much impact on production following the close down of the mines”, and added, ” There are stocks lying and these can be offered in the market.” According to him, the state has increased its production capacity.

The Jindal Steel and Power Ltd executive director, Manish Kharbanda, had suggested for a regulatory or legislative framework to allow non-operating iron ore mines to start operation with a deferred penalty payment mechanism.  Earlier, the JSPL chairman Naveen Jindal had met the chief secretary and pitched for opening up of iron ore mines to curb the iron ore prices which is hurting the steel makers of the country.