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State to answer Centre’s queries on Khandadhar mines to Posco by Aug 15




Reported by Chinmaya Dehury/Edited by Sandeep Sahu


Steel and Mines Minister Rajanikant Singh today said the state government will submit the clarification sought by the Centre on assigning the Khandadhar mines in Sundargarh district to Korean steel major Posco by August 15.

The Union Mines Ministry had asked the Odisha government for details on seven points, including geographical map of the area where mining would take place, the status of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company, the basis on which the government recommended mining lease for the company and whether it followed the central guidelines on mining management, said sources.

The state government had recommended for prospecting license (PL) of Khandadhar mines in favour of Posco in 2009. However, it landed in legal battle with Geomin Minerals & Marketing Limited challenging the decision stating that it had applied for prospective licence for the mines much before Posco.

Adjudicating on the issue, the Supreme Court recently asked the Centre to consider all the objections raised by various parties pertaining to the mega steel plant and take a decision.

Meanwhile, the state government is scheduled to hold a meeting with Posco India officials in the last week of August to finalise the clauses of a fresh MoU to be signed with the steel producer. The initial MoU, signed for five years, expired on July 21, 2010.

According to official sources, the proposed port at Jatadhari mouth will be the major issue during the discussion. “Since Posco has already agreed in principle to drop the swap clause which was there in the first MoU, the major issue that needs to be thrashed out before signing of the fresh MoU is the captive port. We are of the view that there is no need for a captive port since the cargo can be handled by the Paradip Port close to the project area,” said a government official.