Odish CM Naveen Patnaik urged Centre to increase the royalty from present 14 per cent to 20 per cent soon

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday urged Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal to increase the royalty from present 14 per cent to 20 per cent soon.

“It is disheartening to learn from youth letter that final recommendation of the Study Group on coal royalty revision, submitted before the Union Government, is still under consideration. It is once again requested that the Central Government consider the long pending claim of the State Government to revise the rate of royalty from present 14 per cent to 20 per cent,” Patanik wrote to Goyal.

Mentioning that Odisha, producer of one-fifth of the country’s coal output, Patanik lamented saying the State continues to bear the brunt of adverse effects of such mining on the environment, besides increased strain on water resources and infrastructure coupled with displacement of people. However, a major portion of economic benefits from coal mining is being appropriated by the Central Government, he said.

“While the MMDR Act permits for a revision of royalty on coal every three years, the rate has remained unchanged for the last six years. The rate of clean energy cess levied on coal by the Central Government has been raised from Rs 50 per tonne to Rs 400 per tonne during this period. Since introduction of this cess from 2011, the Central Government has collected about Rs 17,500 crore up to March 2015 whereas during this period, the royalty received by the State is only about Rs. 11,000 crore The State Government has been requesting for a share of at least 60 per cent of such funds to deal with the negative externalities. This may be considered by the Central Government early,” urged Patnaik.

Similarly, the profit before tax (PBT) of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) has increased from Rs 5,314.24 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7,339.66 crore in 2017-18, registering a robust growth of over 38 per cent. The MCL had contributed about Rs 2,021 crore to the Central exchequer during 2014-15, which increased more than three times to about Rs 6,163 crore during the year 2017-18. On the other hand, the MCL has not yet paid the compensation amount or Rs 8,297.77 crore towards the cost of about 180 million tonnes of coal extracted in excess of the permissible limits under environment clearance. The MCL may be directed to make the said payment urgently, demanded Patnaik.

Moreover, the MCL has already utilised, as on March 31, 2017, about 10,000 hectares of land acquired under the CBA Act for mining activities. However, in its two underground mines, closed respectively since 1998 and 2006, MCL has just completed the sand stowing work of 5.38 lakh cum against the total requirement or over 9.15 lakh cum. This non-completion of sand stowing continues to pose the threat of soil subsidence. The PSU may be advised to complete the balance sand stowing expeditiously, requested the CM.