18 mining leases extended: State to HC

Cuttack: Odisha government has decided to extend the lease validity period of 18 iron and manganese ore mines which were closed since May last year following a Supreme Court order.

An affidavit filed by the state government in the Orissa High Court said all the lessees have been intimated to execute the supplementary lease deed within three months.

The affidavit was filed by an additional secretary of Steel and Mines department yesterday in response to an order passed by the High Court on March 25 this year.

The HC had asked the government to implement the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance 2015 and follow the direction of the Union of India permitting operation to the parties who are entitled for extension of term of lease in terms of the Ordinance by April 27.

The HC order came during the joint hearing of at least 24 writ petitions filed by lease holders, including Odisha Manganese and Minerals Ltd, K N Ram, Mesco, AMTC, KMC, Freegrade, Rungta, B I Co., H G Pandya, R P Sao, KJS Ahluwalia, Kaypee Enterprise, Avin Jain, Tarini Minerals and Narayani Sons having 26 mines.

The Additional Secretary, Sundar Lal Seal, in the affidavit also informed the High Court that since the validity period of eight leases has lapsed prior to coming into force of the Amendment Act, the government has tentatively decided to refuse extension of these leases.

“These leases are not eligible for extension as per the provision made under Section 8A(9) of the Amendment Act,” the government affidavit said.

These eight mines are Sonpathali and Tentulidihi Manganese Mines of OMM, Jalahuri & Manganese Mines, Jalahuri & Khondabondha and Jururu & Jalahuri mines of KMC, Dalpahar of Avin Jain, Jururi Iron Ore Mines of Tarini Minerals and Suruguturia Iron Ore mines of Narayani Sons.

All these lease holders in their writ petitions had moved the High Court separately praying to quash the Cabinet decision of January 5, 2015 in which the state government had decided to auction the mineral resources by pushing an ordinance irrespective of the fact that all trades relating to mineral resources are governed by MMDR Act, which is a Central Act.