CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Friday issued an interim stay on the State Cabinet decision to auction all mines leases of major minerals except coal that are awaiting second and subsequent renewals.
Adjudicating a batch of petitions filed by the companies, including Mid East Integrated Steel Ltd and Odisha Manganese and Minerals Ltd, challenging the decision, a division bench of Justice Indrajit Mohanty and Justice B K Patel has said that no final decision can be taken on the auction till further orders. The next date of hearing has been fixed on February 4.
The court had earlier issued notice to the Government seeking its response to the petitions. As the State counsel sought two weeks time to submit the counter, the bench extended the interim restrictions till further orders.
The petitioners have alleged that the Government has no right to dispose mining leases through auction when they were awaiting renewal and there is no provision in Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act, 1957. They had also raised objections to the leases that have been exempted from auction.
The State Cabinet on January 5 had decided to hold public auctions for all captive and non-captive mines except coal. The move was touted to generate `10,000 crore more revenue for the State exchequer.
While the mining leases that were awaiting second or subsequent renewals have been included in the auction, those granted express orders for renewal under Section 8(3) of the MMDR Act along with the existing leases will be exempted.
The decision would impact around 18 iron and manganese lease holders who had applied for second or subsequent renewals and were hopeful of getting express orders soon. The Government has already granted express orders for restarting work in favour of eight lessees.
On the other hand, the Centre’s Mining Ordinance extending lease till 2030 for captive mines and 2020 for non-captive mines has the State Government fuming as it would derail the decision for auctioning the mines.