Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 23:
Reaffirming its commitment to the South Korean steel major Posco to award it iron ore mines in Odisha, the state government is in talks with the Union government to find ways to make available iron ore mines to the steel giant without contravening the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 recently passed by the parliament.
The amended MMDR Act proposes competitive bids for allocation of minerals, eliminating the preferential allotment of mining leases and requiring interested parties to participate in the auction process.
“We are negotiating with the Central government on how Posco could be granted iron ore mines without violating the law. If Posco is denied the right of preferential allotment, then it will affect international commitments of the country,” Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick said on Sunday.
It may be recalled that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had vehemently opposed the mining ordinance and had threatened to drag the matter to the court. However, after a few weeks, the regional party quietly supported the Bill, which was approved in both the houses of the Parliament last week.
In 2014, the state government had recommended to the Centre grant of prospecting license (PL) in favour of Posco. However, the Centre asked it to reconsider its recommendations following dispute over some areas. Though the state government had sent a revised recommendation to the Centre, no such decision has been taken on it till now.
Posco had plans to set up an eight MTPA steel mill in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district in the first phase for which land acquisition process is almost over.