Miners to pay environment fee

The revenue earned will be deposited in a separate head of account

The Government has imposed the “Environment Protection Fee” at the rate of Rs 84,000 per hectare on companies mining and quarrying on non-forest, revenue and patta land in the State. A gazette notification to this effect has been issued on May 28.

As per the order, it is an one-time fee levied on all mining and quarry leases. Those who have obtained the lease to either mine or quarry should pay the fee within three months. For fresh mining and quarry leases, the fee will be collected while granting the permission.

There are 509 mining leases in the State. The State department of Mines and Geology has been entrusted to implement the order and collect the fee. “We will begin collecting the fee shortly. Preparations are underway and all the companies will be informed about the new fee imposed by the Government,” Additional Director, Department of Mines and Geology Veeraiah said.

“Mining and quarrying lead to environmental degradation on all counts. These activities are known to have potential impact on the environment both in terms of depletion of natural resources and in terms of polluting air, water and soil. The fee has been imposed on the principle of Polluter to Pay,” the department of Forest, Ecology and Environment stated in the order.

The revenue earned by collecting the fee will be deposited in a separate head of account under the the department of Forest, Ecology and Environment. It will be used only for the afforestation programme in areas where mining and quarry have been done, official said.

No charges

Hitherto, there was no provision to collect any fee for damaging the environment from those conducting mining or quarrying activities on non-forest, patta and revenue lands. But it was collecting the compensatory afforestation charges from those mining or quarrying on forest land.

Ever since the mining industry, especially iron ore, witnessed boom some years ago in the State, a number of companies entered the sector to reap the benefit.  They obtained permission to mine not only on forest land, but revenue, patta and non-forest land, causing heavy damage to the environment, officials said.

The Supreme Court took serious note of this development in 2004, and directed all Governments to impose the Compensatory Afforestation Charges on companies mining and quarry on forest land. Accordingly, the State Government took action in the same year. But the Government then had not imposed any fee with respect to non-forest lands.

However, the Compensatory Afforestation Charges, which was between Rs 5.80 lakh per hectare to Rs 9.20 lakh depending on the location of the mine or quarry, has been cut to Rs 84,000 per hectare.

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