Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 15:
The Odisha government will decide on the fate of 18 mines, which had to be closed as per a Supreme Court order, at a high level committee meeting today.
The state government, which has suffered a major fall in mining revenue following the apex court rder, will take a call in today’s meeting on whether to permit resumption of mining in these closed mines through an ‘express order.’
The meeting, to be chaired by the development commissioner, will be attended by officials from the departments of Mines, Revenue and Forest & Environment.
The state government, on November 11, had served showcause notices on the remaining 18 mines closed following the Supreme Court order. The government has asked the lessees to reply as soon as possible on the report of the apex court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which had observed gross irregularities in these mines.
Meanwhile, with the six-month deadline set by the Supreme Court (SC) for the state government to renew the lease deed of 26 mines ending on November 15, the Odisha government has moved the apex court seeking more time.
The SC on May 16 had ordered closure of 26 mines due to non-renewal of leases. It had also directed the state to ensure their renewal by obtaining statutory clearances within six months.
The meeting will also discuss the issue of encouraging lease holders to raise production of iron ore and disposal of stocked ore, according to sources.
The state has generated mining revenue of only Rs 2,343 crore till October against collection worth Rs 3077 crore in the corresponding period last year. The target fixed for mining revenue collections for the year 2014-15 was Rs 6346 crore, according to official sources.
As iron ore contributes 60 per cent of the mining revenue, fall in despatch has affected collection, an official of the Department of Steel and Mines said adding that the government was working out strategies to augment the production and dispatch of the minerals.
The total dispatch of iron ore up to September, 2014 was 22.32 Million Ton (MT) as against 28.47 MT in the corresponding period in 2013-14.This dip in despatch added to the fall in the average sale price of iron ore resulting in the shortfall of mining revenue, the official said.
The sale price of iron ore is at its lowest in the last five years.
The per ton price of iron ore has also declined. There has beena decrease of about Rs 200 per ton of iron ore on an average compared to the last year in both lumps and fines.
Steel and Mines minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick recently said he is hopeful of making up for the shortfall as there has been a 50 percent hike in royalty on iron ofrom 1 September, 2014.
There are 36 mines presently producing iron ore, out of which 29 are non-captive.
The production limit as per the approved Environmental Clearance (EC) in respect of these 29 mines is 42.36 MT against which the production achieved up to the end of September, 2014 has been 17 MT.