Tu tu mine mine
► District revenue dept is fighting shy of asking Lavasa to pay up ` 48 crore including the fine ► What’s worse, dist collectorate, Mulshi tehsildar are passing the issue back and forth between them
Posted On Wednesday, April 04, 2012 at 09:22:35 AM
After their slow-footedness in recovering the mining royalty and the penalty to be imposed on Lavasa Corporation for alleged illegal excavation carried out at their hill-city project, the state government’s revenue and forest department, the Pune district collectorate and the Mulshi tehsildar’s office are still in a laidback mode about carrying out their responsibilities. What’s more, they are now passing the buck so far as the recovery of royalty is concerned.
Shockingly, it appears that neither the district collector nor the tehsildar have made any attempt so far to raise a claim recovery of the mining royalty from Lavasa. In January last year, following the visit of a fact-finding team of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest to Lavasa City, at the directions of the Bombay High Court, former district collector Chandrakant Dalvi had directed then tehsildar of Mulshi taluka, Bhausaheb Jadhav, to survey the amount of excavation carried out by Lavasa for their on-going project and submit a report.
According to the report submitted by Jadhav two months later, Lavasa had carried out excavation to the tune of six lakh brass in Dasave and Mugaon villages. Jadhav also found that another 2 lakh brass of excavation was done on the Public Works Department (PWD) on the connecting road to Lavasa city.
For carrying out this excavation, Lavasa was required to pay Rs 16 crore for the excavation, according to the norms framed by the state government on mining royalty. Also, if Mulshi’s tehsildar holds Lavasa guilty of evading the royalty payment, since they have not paid any as yet, another 32 crore rupees as penalty would have to be recovered from Lavasa.
Apparently no action was taken on Jadhav’s report by the district collector nor did he fix the amount to be recovered from Lavasa. Meanwhile, the deputy secretary of Maharashtra’s revenue and forest department dashed off a letter to Pune’s district collector enquiring about the recovery of the royalty amount.
“The Accountant General of Maharashtra in its recent report has objected to the non-recovery of the royalty from the Lavasa city corporation for mining “minor minerals.””Therefore prompt action is needed for recovery of the royalty,” the letter said.
Referring to Lavasa’s plea for exemption from paying the royalty, the letter further mentions that there is no provision in the mineral mining act of 1955 to grant such exemptions. Citing the state government’s notification of August 2001, the deputy secretary informs the collector that even though the excavated soil was utilised for levelling the land by Lavasa, it had to make the royalty payment.
The letter also asserts that government, semi-government organisations, boards, corporations and local self-government institutions are entitled to pay such royalties.
When asked why the district collectorate has not made any effort to recover the royalty, additional collector Ganesh Patil said, “Lavasa Corporation approached us with a request for exemption from paying the royalty amount which was forwarded to the state government.
Following the refusal from the government for any kind of exemption, the matter is now pending with the Mulshi tehsildar.” Replying further to a query on the estimated amount of royalty due from Lavasa, Patil replied, “We are yet to calculate the amount of royalty which is due from Lavasa. The work on this is in progress.”
According to Vishambhar Chaudhary, convenor of National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM), “Legally one has to pay 200 per cent penalty on the amount which has been evaded. In Lavasa’s case, forget about the penalty, the administration has not been able to recover the original royalty. They are just sending letters back and forth among themselves. This is nothing but dilly-dallying to favour Lavasa.”
Ravindra Lohokare, PRO for Lavasa Corp denied knowledge of the outstanding royalty dues. “We have not recieved any official communication on the Accountant General of Maharashtra’s remarks. We will respond as and when we receive the same” was all that Lohokare said in a statement.
► Lavasa Corporation approached us with a request for exemption from paying the royalty amount which was forwarded to the state government. Following the refusal from the government for any kind of exemption, the matter is now pending with the Mulshi tehsildar