Nalco’s temporary working permit extended for 3 months

Koraput: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has extended the one-year temporary working permit (TWP) of aluminium major Nalco for three months for operating the central and north block of Panchpatmali mines at Damanjodi in Koraput district.
The 12-month TWP, granted in 2012, was to expire on November 16, last mid-night.
"Nalco was supposed to stop mining at its (north-central block) from today but the MoEF has extended the TWP for three more months which means the PSU can carry its mining activities without any legal hurdle," Deputy Director of Mines (Koraput) Prabhat Kumar Ojha said.
The mining lease of the company could not be renewed on time because of delay in holding statutory palli sabhas for diversion of forest land, sources said.
Last year, Nalco had to stop its 2.1 million tonne per annum bauxite refinery at Damajodi for more than one month after its 30-year-old lease expired on November 16, 2012. It obtained a TWP on December 17, 2012 to raise mineral for a year and renew its mining lease.
According to mining officer of Koraput, Sailaja Prasad Nanda, Malco was initially granted 4,692.05 hectares of mines, of which it surrendered 1,288 hectare in 2002 and 2,089 hectare in 2010.
Presently, Nalco has 1,315 hectare, including a South block of about 582 hectare where mining is yet to begin.
"Nalco needs around 14,000 tonnes of bauxite daily to run its refinery. On November 14, Nalco was allowed to mine 45,000 MT of bauxite till last midnight as its one-year TWP was to expire," Nanda said.
The north-central block of the Panchpatmali mine is spread over an area of 1,315 hectare of land, including 1,294 hectare of forest land, they said.
Though on October 4, 2012, the district administration had conducted a public hearing at Panchpatmalli to obtain the opinion of villagers on the renewal of mining lease of Nalco, the hearing was cancelled mid-way as several villagers opposed the hearing claiming that the PSU had done nothing for the peripheral development.
Around 3,000 villagers of over 15 peripheral villages attended the meeting.