BHUBANESWAR: With the South Korean steel major Posco’s Rs 52,000 crore steel project hanging fire for the last eight years, the State Government on Wednesday made a strong plea to the Centre to grant the captive mining lease of Khandadhar mines to the company.
The contentious issues of granting Khandadhar iron ore reserve in Sundargarh district in favour of Posco and bauxite linkage to Vedanta Group’s refinery plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district figured prominently in the meeting between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar here on Wednesday.
Tomar later told a media conference that issues relating Posco were discussed in detail, but declined to elaborate on the matter.
He, however, gave enough indications that the delay in granting mining lease to Posco is because of the State Government’s failure to demarcate the notified areas from the non-notified areas in Khandadhar.
Though the Union Minister assured the State Government to look into the matter constructively, sources said the State is yet to comply with the clarifications sought by the Centre for grant of prospecting licence (PL) to Posco over Khandadhar mines.
In May last year, the Supreme Court while setting aside the Orissa High Court order, which had quashed the State Government’s decision to allot iron ore licence to Posco in Khandadhar hills, had asked the Centre to consider all the objections raised by various parties pertaining to grant of PL and take a decision.
An inter-ministerial group (IMG) set up by the Centre to iron out hurdles in implementation of mega projects had sought certain clarifications from the State Government in March on grant of iron ore prospecting licence to Posco.
In its reply, the State Government had admitted to facing difficulties in distinguishing between notified areas and non-notified areas needed for granting the PL.
Under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957, the Government notifies iron ore-bearing areas as mines which can be exploited for commercial use, while non-notified areas are those which require several regulatory approvals before being allowed to be explored.
In case of Khandadhar mines, the State Government has compounded problems for Posco by failing to demarcate the notified areas.
The Ministry of Mines have received several applications from many non-notified areas, including Khandadhar for grant of mining lease.
The steel giant, which had signed an MoU with the State Government in June 2005 to set up the integrated steel plant and port project in the coastal town of Jagatsinghpur, is yet to get the requisite land for the project.
Though the company needs 2,700 acres of land to commence work in the first phase, the State Government has so far transferred 1,700 acres of land to it.
State is yet to comply with the clarifications sought by the Centre for grant of prospecting licence (PL) to Posco over Khandadhar mines
Posco needs 2,700 acres of land for first phase work, the State has transferred 1,700 acres of land to it