Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu government wins cases pending for two decades

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Cement firms have to pay ₹640 crore

The State government has finally won a batch of cases pending in the Madras High Court for nearly two decades, paving the way for the recovery of ₹640 crore as compensation from private cement companies, which had taken government lands on lease for mining limestone, but refused to pay annual compensation for the damage caused to the lands.

Justice M. Dhandapani ruled in the favour of the State after accepting submissions of Advocate General Vijay Narayan and Additional Government Pleader E. Manoharan that the government, being the paramount title holder of poromboke lands, was entitled to demand and receive compensation proportionate to the damage caused due to mining operations.

He disagreed with the cement companies that since they had already paid the lease amount and also remitted royalty for the minerals mined by them, they could not be forced to pay additional charges under the head of annual compensation for surface rights. The judge said it was needless to mention that damage would certainly be caused to the land during mining operations.

The State government had challenged an order passed by the Union Mines Secretary on March 31, 1999, stating that annual compensation need to be paid only for private lands taken on lease for mining and not for government lands.

‘Same yardstick must be applied’

Disagreeing with the stand taken by the Centre, the judge said: “When the private land of an individual, which was leased out, will be subjected to damage warranting payment of compensation for depriving the land owner to put it to any other alternative use, the same yardstick has to be equally applied to the lands which are classified as government poromboke lands.”

He went on to state: “I also wish to observe that it is possible to obtain mining lease even in respect of private land without the consent of the real owner of such land. However, before carrying out mining operation or entering into the land or occupying the leased hold land, the consent of the land owner is imperative and mandatory as per law in force.

“On the basis of such consent by the land owner, the State government will confer mining lease over the private land. The reason being the owner of the land must be aware of the perils and/or damage that may be occasioned to his lands due to the mining operation. The same yardstick has to be applied even in the case of government poromboke lands.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 10:50:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamil-nadu-government-wins-cases-pending-for-two-decades/article30055145.ece

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