Odisha govt scraps lease of some mines

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to prevent illegal mining, Odisha government has decided to cancel the lease of certain mines, whose renewal was due between February 1987 and September 1994 by changing some provisions in the Mining Concession Rules, 1960.

The state government has also sought prior approval of the Central Government for renewal of lease prior to December 20, 1999. Therefore, renewal made in violation of this provision before this date is invalid, official sources said on Sunday.

The Principal Secretary of steel and mines department asked the Director of Mines to identify such leases. “Therefore, you are asked to suspend the operation of the mines, if any of them are currently working,” Steel and Mines Secretary said in a letter to the Mines Director.

The director was also asked to furnish a report to the government within 15 days giving details of cases where renewal of mining lease has been deemed to have been refused during February 10, 1987 to September 25, 1994.

The director would deal in the case where the renewal application was not made at least 12 months before the date on which the lease was due to expire between February 10, 1987 to September 25, 1994.

The state government maintained that the mining lease operating in violation of the rules should be treated as operating without lawful authority from the date of renewal application was deemed to have been refused. “Such mines should be taken over by state government. The ore extracted during the period of such unlawful occupation may be seized or market price thereof recovered, if the ore is disposed,” the Secretary said in the order.

State government made specific rules for renewal of mines lease after Congress leader and Union Minister Srikant Jena pointed out that above 80 iron ore mines were operating in the state under the category of “deemed to”.

The mine owners whose applications for renewal of mines were neither accepted nor rejected had been considered as “deemed to” be renewed according to old practice.