Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 23:
Sixteen mines have been identified in Odisha for auction the process for which would start by the end of October this year, Union secretary of Mines Balwinder Kumar revealed here today.
“The Mines & Minerals Development Regulations Act (MMDR Act) has been amended. Now, we are requesting all states to go for auction of plots/blocks in accordance with the amended law. We are very happy that the Odisha government has taken very proactive steps in this regard. They have identified 16 blocks and Odisha government is hopeful that by end of October they will start auctioning the blocks,” Kumar told media persons after a meeting with chief secretary GC Pati at the state secretariat here.
“This is very important because the whole country is looking at which state is going to put these blocks on auction,” he added.
The Mines secretary said he requested the Odisha government to constitute the District Mineral Foundation Fund (DMFF) at the earliest.
“This fund will be operational from January 2015 onwards. Some of the districts will be getting funds to the tune of Rs 200 crore, Rs 300 crore or Rs 400 crore. So we have requested chief secretary that all the DMFF trusts should be formed in all the districts as soon as possible so that funds can be transferred immediately. Government of India will very soon indicate the percentage of royalty which will be put in these DMF funds,” Kumar said.
The Union Mines secretary said he had requested the state government to build capacity of these districts to properly utilise the huge funds that will be flowing in for socio-economic development and welfare of the people engaged in mining activities.
“We have told the states that whatever help they need from Government of India on DMF or for auctioning of these blocks, we will be very happy to extend that help,” said Kumar.
Chief Secretary G C Pati also informed that the state government will very soon issue the notification on the auction of mines in the state.
“We have already begun DGPS survey and other allied works connected with the auctioning of mines blocks like appointment of consultants for preparation of bid documents. The process has started and we are hopeful that by the end of October auctioning can begin.” he said.
The chief secretary said only those blocks which have been explored up to G2 and G3 levels can be put up for auction for exploration purposes. Blocks in which no exploration has been done cannot be put up for auction. The 16 blocks listed for auction in the first phase have been selected on the basis of these rules, he clarified.
“Survey of these 16 blocks is underway and it will be completed by September this year. After completion of other allied works, it is hoped that auction can begin by October. The rules framed for the DMFF have been approved by the state government. It’s now being examined by the Law department and after its final drafting, it will notified,” said the chief secretary.
In the second week of this month, the state government issued a gazette notification forming a high level committee to advise the government on the issue of auctioning mines in the state, besides finalizing the modalities for the auction process in accordance with the provisions of the amended MMDR Act.
While the development commissioner has been named as the chairman of the committee, the secretaries of the Mines and Industries departments are among its seven members.
The first meeting on the auction of mines, which was scheduled to be held on July 28, has now been shifted to the first week of August, official sources said. The meeting will be attended by the chief secretary and members of the high level committee.
Among the tasks assigned to the high level committee are supervision of the process of auction of mines, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey, preparation of tender/bid documents and advising the government on reserving mines for public sector undertakings during the leasing out of mines as well as in granting of prospecting license (PL), sources revealed.
The committee will also advise the government on the sectors that need to be given priority during reservation or auction of mines.
In the initial phase, the high level committee has identified 16 areas in the districts of Keonjhar, Sundargarh and Malkangiri, including the Khandadhar mines in Sundargarh district, for auction, reliable sources said.
Sources said the meeting to be held in the first week of August will deliberate on nine areas with iron ore, five areas with manganese and two areas with lime stone deposits.