Order of the Orissa High Court regarding regarding request for reduction in penalty imposed on two stone quarries, Odisha, 23/02/2021

Order of the Orissa High Court in the matter of W.P. (C) No. 1415 of 2021 regarding illegal operation of two stone quarries - one being the Golaputkhua stone quarry in village Kiajhari ((leased quarry) and the other at village Nijigarh, Tapang (unauthorized). The petition was filed challenging the order of Shree Jagannath Temple Office December 24, 2020.  

The allegation against the Petitioner was that even without waiting for the execution of a lease agreement or obtaining an environment clearance from the competent authority, the petitioner continued operating two stone quarries illegally.

A GPS survey report of January 5, 2018 showed that the petitioner had lifted 6,72,051 Cum. of material against the admissible MGQ of 50600 Cum. spread over three lease years. Accordingly, a demand notice for a sum of Rs.14,90,07,973/- was issued by letter dated April 13, 2018 by the temple authorities. After deducting the royalty amount the amount to be paid by the petitioner was Rs.71,90,400 which he paid.

A second phase GPS survey was made during March, 2019 which revealed excess lifting of 31305 Cum. of material by the petitioner against the admissible MGQ of 16800 Cum. This triggered another imposition of penalty for a sum of Rs.39,26,316/-.

Counsel for petitioner requested that the petitioner should be permitted to make one more representation to the temple authorities for reduction of the penalty.

The Orissa High Court refused to agree with the request and said that the petitioner was illegaly operating the quarries with impunity, even after imposition of penalty from time to time.