The Odisha government has been granted another two months by the Supreme Court to decide on the fate of 18 iron and manganese ore mines in the state whose leases are due for renewal, an official said. The state government has been granted time for a second time to take a call on renewal of the merchant mines, awaiting second and subsequent renewal. The previous extension granted by the apex court expired Feb 20.
The government had sought additional time due to introduction of new provisions in the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Ordinance, 2015, which allowed the working non-captive mines to continue operation till 2020 before being auctioned. “We will now scrutinise the mines whether the leases would be cancelled or to be extended to another five years according to the mining ordinance,” said Deepak Mohanty, the mines director, Odisha.
The government would scrutinise whether the lease conditions of the 18 mines were violated or not as per the provisions in the MMDR Act and it would recommend the Centre accordingly. The Supreme Court, in its interim order May 16 last year, had asked the state government to take a decision regarding the renewal of 26 iron and manganese ore leases within six months and had suspended operations of these mines.
The government had passed express orders to facilitate resumption of eight mines. But, the government is yet to take a call on the 18 mines. It had even sent show cause notices to lease holders for cancellation of the leases. However, the new provisions in the MMDR Amendment Ordinance allowing the miners to operate for next five years has compelled the government to give a rethink, sources said.
The provision for renewal of mining lease was done away with in the mining ordinance that turned effective Jan 12. It says all leases awaiting renewal are automatically allowed to operate till 2020 in case of merchant mines and up to 2030 for captive users. (IANS)