Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 4:
The Odisha government today made it clear that there is no need to reply to the Centre’s communiqué seeking clarification on Posco India’s eligibility for prospecting licence (PL) over Khandadhar iron ore deposits.
“Since Union Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in March this year, had clarified that Posco was not eligible for PL under the amended MMDR Act, we did not consider it appropriate to reply to the letter issued by the Ministry of Mines in April,” Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick told reporters here today while responding on Union Minister of State for Steel and Mines Vishnu Deo Sai’s statement to a query in Lok Sabha yesterday.
Sai had told in a reply to a question in the Lok Sabha yesterday that the Government of India (Ministry of Mines) had received a proposal of the Government of Odisha for grant of Prospecting Licence to POSCO for iron ore in Odisha.
He had said that on April 7, Government of India had advised the State Government of Odisha to examine whether the application is eligible under Section 10A of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015. In case the application is eligible, Government of India will take further action based on the recommendation of the State Government, it had said.
“Facilitation for setting up of proposed steel plant by Posco in Odisha may only be done in the present ambit of prevailing Act and Rules. The state government may prepare for initiating the auction process under the provisions of the MMDR Amendment Act, 2015 in which Posco may also participate,” said Mallick quoting from Tomar’s letter.
Notably, the state government had recommended to the Centre to grant PL to Posco-India over 2,082.50 hectares in Sundargarh district.
Mallick further pointed out that the Union Mines Ministry, in a recent letter, had said that the proposal for grant of mineral concession to Posco-India was ineligible as per the provisions of Section 10 A (1) of the MMDR Act.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who returned here from his four-day trip to New Delhi, told reporters that talks were on with the Central government over Posco and the chief secretary has been directed to pursue the matter.