Odisha AG seeks info on mines policy

Bhubaneswar: Even as fate of Vedanta’s beleaguered bauxite mining proposal at the Niyamgiri hills seems to have been sealed following rejection at nine gram sabhas, the Accountant General (AG)-Odisha has asked the State Government to furnish details regarding its prospective plan for development and conservation of mineral wealth in the State.

In a letter to the Steel and Mines Department, the AG has sought information whether any norm for conservation of mineral has been prescribed by the State Government and any MoUs executed with different companies were as per any prescribed policy.

The State government has also been asked to submit details of mineral reserve confirmed by Geological Survey of India (GSI)/Director of Geology excluding already existing concessions.

Specifically, the AG wanted it to furnish information on the location, area and mineral wise reserve of ores in the State.

The letter, besides asking about area notified out of above in official gazette for grant of concession, if any, has directed the State Government to furnish in details the number of cases where concessions given on application by individuals after getting prospecting license or otherwise in respect of areas not notified by Government.

Steel and Mines Minister Rajanikant Singh said, “Surely, we'll submit the requisite information in written format.”  
When asked about MoUs, Singh stated that in last January, the department had simplified the existing guideline on MoU by adding more points to it.

“Odisha Government is doing everything with a legal stand and some basic policy,” he said.

Two days back, the Odisha Government has written to the central mines ministry defending its policy resolution to reserve mineral bearing areas in favour of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC). The State Government’s defence is in response to the ministry’s letter in February this year, wherein it had disapproved the resolution, saying it does not conform to mining laws.