Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Odisha govt sets up panel to probe duty evasion in iron ore export

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has set up a committee headed by director of mines to inquire into allegations that iron ore from auctioned mines in the state was downgraded to evade export duty and cess payable to the Centre and state government.

Officials said a representative of the Nagpur-headquartered Indian Bureau of Mines is also part of the inquiry panel.

Officials said the inquiry was ordered following allegations by BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi in September last year that mining leaseholders in connivance with mining officials, laboratory samplers and laboratories were passing off high grade iron ore as low grade ore.

The MP alleged that this malpractice also reflected in Odisha’s share of low-grade iron ore (with iron content of less than 58%) in exports increasing from 23.4% in 2018-2019 to 70% in the next three fiscals ending in 2021-22.

Leaseholders do not need to pay export duty for selling low-grade ore outside the country.

Mining department officials said the certificates submitted by the leaseholders indicate the possibility of underreporting the iron ore grade. “There is also an anomaly in the ratio of lumps and fines that the leaseholders submitted in their documents which violates the IBM guidelines in this regard,” said a mining department official.

The officials said a report will be sent to the mines ministry in Delhi after the probe is completed.

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