BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday called upon the Centre to bring further reforms in mineral sector to ensure uninterrupted ore supply to industries. Expressing concern over shortage of raw materials to metal-based industries during a discussion with Union Minister of Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi and Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the Chief Minister said this is despite timely auction of working mines whose lease period expired by March this year.
“Shortage of ore and resultant high price has posed a challenge for the sponge iron plants, small and medium size steel plants. Such disruptions and uncertainties in production and dispatch are undesirable, especially during these times,” he said while discussing issues confronting the mineral sector. This has affected the State revenue and employment of the people dependent on the sector, he added.
Odisha is one of the first states to successfully auction mineral blocks in accordance with the orders of Supreme Court. However, there have been some glitches in commencement of mining operations which have caused disruptions in production and dispatch leading to shortage of minerals for end-user industries and price rise. He suggested that the State and Central PSUs can play a very important role in maintaining the level of ore supply to the end user industries at such critical moments.
The Chief Minister proposed reservation of some of these expired working mineral blocks under provisions of Section 17A of the MMDR Act to State PSUs like OMC to ensure uninterrupted supply of ore to the end-user industry. “Odisha supports further mineral sector reforms and streamlining of procedures which will go a long way in unlocking the mineral resources of the country and give a boost to the economy,” the CM said.
Raising the issue of royalty revision of minerals, the Chief Minister said this is a longstanding issue of many states including Odisha. This revision has been pending since 2017. Similarly, royalty on coal has been due since September 2017. Though the Clean Energy Cess has undergone multiple enhancements, there has been no accrual to the State. He requested for early action in this regard as this will greatly benefit the State, especially in a post-Covid scenario.