Seven mine owners in Odisha owe the state government Rs 534 crore towards sales tax. With these miners contesting the levy in different courts, the state government is struggling to recover the amount.
While the finance department had originally raised a demand totalling to Rs 549 crore by way of value added tax (VAT) and Odisha entry tax (OET) on these mine owners, it has been able to recover barely Rs 15 crore.
The miners in the defaulters' list include Sarada Mines, Pattnaik Minerals Pvt Ltd, Mideast Integrated Steel Ltd, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Apical Exim Pvt Ltd, Tata Steel Ltd and Reliance Minerals Ltd.
According to a written note provided by the finance department to the state assembly, Sarada Mines tops the defaulters' list. The department has managed to collect only Rs 10 crore against a demand of Rs 397.12 crore raised on the lessee on its Thakurani mines in Keonjhar district. Similarly, the department has mopped up barely Rs three crore by way of OET against a demand of Rs 99.28 crore. In both the cases that were challenged by the lessee, the Odisha High Court has asked the state government not to take coercive action to collect tax arrears. The tax dues range between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2011.
Sarada Mines is in dock for violation of rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rules- 1960 as well.
The lessee was selling the entire run-of-mine (ROM) produce from its Thakurani mines in Keonjhar district to Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) without any agreement. A notice was served on the lessee on the basis of a report by a five-member panel of steel & mines department that had held the leaseholder guilty of the violation.
Also, there was furore in the state assembly recently over the allegation of under-pricing of the ore by the lessee, resulting in lower VAT collection. Mideast Integrated Steel was slapped a demand of Rs 18.31 crore for VAT and Rs 4.24 crore towards OET dues during the same assessment period. While collection from the steel company towards VAT was a paltry Rs 1.22 crore, that for OET was still tinier at Rs 28.30 lakh. On SAIL's Bolani iron ore mines in Sundargarh district, the state government has raised a total Central sales tax (CST) demand of Rs 21.52 crore from 2005-06 to March 31, 2010. Against this demand, collection has been only Rs 1.86 crore. On Tata Steel's Joda mines, the government raised CST demand of Rs 1.83 crore out of which Rs 49.47 lakh has been collected.