Odisha BJP demands takeover of un-evacuated minerals of leased out mines
In a letter to Union Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi and Union Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, a group of state BJP MLAs said that about 16.55 million tons of iron ore remain un-evacuated causing loss to the state as well as the Centre when both need revenue.
Opposition Chief Whip Mohan Majhi in a press conference here said that prior to the COVID pandemic outbreak last year, 17 mining leases with a combined capacity of approximately 58-60 million metric ton were auctioned in March 2020 in Odisha.
He said that the reconciled stock/declared mineral value available in these 17 mines on April 1, 2020, was approximately 39 million MT of which 16.5 million MT, worth Rs 10,000 crore, was available on November 1, 2020.
However, it could not be lifted within the prescribed seven-month period in consonance with provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act. Of the 16.5 million MT, around 8.5 million MT is available in the Nuagaon iron ore block in Keonjhar district, Majhi told reporters.
The lessees of the said mines had approached the Orissa High Court seeking extension of time to lif the minerals, he said.
The official also held that going by the MMDR Act, the minerals (16.55 MT) which were not lifted by the old lessees by November 1, 2020, is deemed to be the property of the state government and can be sold or disposed of in any manner as the state government may deem fit, the BJP leader said.
The saffron party lawmakers alleged that the state government has not taken any action to sell/dispose of the ore leading to a shortage of iron ore in the market and resultant hike in ore prices. This has also led to non-generation of substantial revenue for both the state and the Centre.
''If these minerals are available in the market, it will lead to a fall in the prices of iron ore and subsequently a reduction in raw material cost for the steel industry,'' Majhi said.
It is suspected that the state government has some motive for not lifting the un-evacuated minerals, he said.
However, the ruling BJD rejected the BJP's allegation.
Party spokesperson Lenin Mohanty claimed that Odisha is the only state in the country where the auction of mines has been done in a transparent manner and for which it has won accolades from the Centre and others.
''Majhi's allegations are baseless and he does not understand the provisions of the mining rules. If he doubts that there is any irregularity, he can request the Centre to order an investigation. The BJD government has nothing to hide,'' Mohanty said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)