BHUBANESWAR: The State Government is likely to decide the fate of 18 iron ore and manganese mines, inoperative since May 16 and awaiting second and subsequent renewal, after Supreme Court judgment on illegal mining in Odisha.
Though a meeting of the high-level committee headed by Development Commissioner was scheduled on October 9 to decide the applications for renewal of mining lease of 18 lessees, including the controversial Aryan Mining and Trading Corporation, it was cancelled at the last moment after learning that the apex court is likely to deliver its verdict on illegal mining in the State on October 15, informed sources said.
In an interim order on May 16, the Supreme Court suspended operation of 26 mines operating on the basis of second and subsequent deemed renewals after expiry of their lease period.
While halting the operations, the apex court had directed the State Government to dispose of all renewal applications under Section 8(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 within six months. The State Government was further asked to prioritise the applications, considering those granted for captive mining for supplying iron or manganese ore as raw material to the industries first and take up other renewal applications thereafter. In any case, the State Government will ensure that the entire process of consideration and disposal of the renewal applications under the MMDR Act is completed within six months starting Saturday, the Green Bench of the apex court had ruled.
In June, the State Government passed orders in favour of eight mines - four of Tata Steel, three of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and one mine of Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) for operation subject to necessary clearances from the statutory authority concerned.
Of the 601 mining leases granted by the State Government, 187 are for mining iron ore and manganese. While the Government has determined 29 mining leases, operations of another 102 mines were suspended due to lack of requisite clearances and approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, environmental clearance and consent to operate.
Of the 56 operating mining leases, lease deeds for grant/ renewal of the mining leases have been executed. The balance, 40 mines are operating under deemed renewal under Rule 24 A(6), Mineral Concession Rules, 1960.