Bhubaneswar, Nov 11:
The Odisha government has sent notices to 18 mines owners, including Tata Steel and Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining, asking them to reply as to why their lease renewal applications should not be rejected.
Twenty-six mines, including these 18, were shut down by a Supreme Court order in May this year. However, the government allowed eight mines of Tata steel, Odisha Mining Corporation and SAIL to operate through an express order, stipulating certain conditions including furnishing of environment and forest clearances within three months, which was extended to Nov 15.
“We have sent notices to the 18 mines with reference to Section 26 (1) of Mineral Concession Rules (refusal of lease renewal) asking them why their mining lease renewal applications should not be rejected,” state’s Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick told IANS.
The Odisha government will have to submit a report to the Supreme Court by Nov 15 about the fate of the mines. Therefore, it has taken the step before it appears to the court.
The apex court in its May 16 order directed the government to expedite the 26 pending applications within six months and asked them to halt mining operation at these mines running under deemed extension.
“We have allowed operation of the mines of Tata steel and SAIL through express order because these are the captive mines. For the other 18 mines, most of them are merchant mines so we are considering the renewal of these leases and it would take time,” said a senior official of the department, declining to be named.
The Supreme Court had asked the state government either to issue express order allowing these mines to run under special provisions or refuse their applications with valid reasons.