New Delhi, Nov 6: The Odisha government is believed to have slapped a fine of about Rs 6,000 crore on Tata Steel for its alleged involvement in "illegal and excess mining" at its captive mines.
Deputy Director of Mines (DDM) of Joda mining circle has slapped the fine on the steelmaker and on several other iron ore producers on charges of "illegal and excess mining", the source added.
"Tata Steel has been fined about Rs 6,000 crore," he added.
However, the amount of fine imposed on the company could not be verified immediately.
Denying any illegal mining by his company, a Tata Steel official, however, acknowledged receipt of "2-3 notices". The charges at the most could termed as "excessive mining", he added.
"The company will make a representation to the state government soon. At the most, our case can be termed as excessive mining but certainly it is not illegal mining," he said.
Stating that operations have not stopped at the mines, the official further said, "Tata Steel has paid royalty and taxes for whatever ore has been mined over and above the permissible limit."
When contacted, the company said in an e-mailed statement that it is confident of resolving the issue "amicably" with the state government.
"We reiterate our contention that we have always undertaken mining in Odisha and also in other states where we operate with strict conformity with the existing laws," the company said.
It added that "Government of India has recently brought out a notification defining irregularity in mining operations and illegal mining. This distinction is an important aspect of the whole issue of the demand put forth by the State Government."
Tata Steel has captive iron ore mines in Odisha's Joda and Katamati. Besides, it also has manganese mines and dolomite quarries in the state. All the material is currently used for company's steel-making plant at Jamshedpur, which is about 150 kms away from the mining sites.
Comments from other mining companies could not be obtained on the issue.
Odisha accounts for a third of country's iron ore -- a vital steel making raw material-- production. Of late, it has also witnessed several controversies on illegal mining and currently a Centre-appointed Justice M B Shah Commission is probing the cases of illegal mining in the state.