19 industries have moved courts disputing the cess imposed: Naveen

Even as protests against diversion of river water in favour of industries were growing in different parts of State, industrial houses appeared to be reluctant to pay the cess towards use of water.

Furnishing a reply to a query on industries using water, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik informed the State Assembly that water cess pending against industries in the State had touched Rs. 822 crore by October this year.

As per the reply, many major industries were found to be defaulters in payment of water cess.

Major industries which were found not paying their due water tax include public sector units like Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (Rs 119.02 crore), Paradip Port Trust (Rs. 13.61 crore), NTPC, Kaniha (Rs. 48.22 crore) and NALCO (Rs. 18.47 crore).

Similarly, important industries like Sterlite Energy Limited (Rs. 113.99 crore), Bhushan Limited (Rs. 71.70 crore), Vedanta Alumina Limited, Lanjigarh (Rs. 13.13 crore), and GMR Energy Limited, Kamalanga Rs. 10.20 crore were defaulters.

Chief Minister informed as many as 19 industries and commercial establishments had moved different courts disputing the water cess imposed on them. In August this year, Jindal Steel and Power Limited paid Rs. 7 crore towards water tax while arrear on water cess to the tune of Rs. 13.98 crore was pending against the company. Orissa High Court has clubbed cases of 14 industries those declined to pay the water tax imposed by the government.

“Industries those do not pay water tax in time are being charged with two per cent of compound interest on the arrears. The State government is also taking steps under Odisha Public Demand Recovery Act, 1962 to stop water supply to defaulting industries,” Mr. Pantaik maintained.

Squads have been formed under chairmanship of Chief Engineer and Basin Managers to collect pending water cess. These squads frequently visit industrial premises and try to sort out disputes over payment of water tax.