SC asks Centre, Odisha to respond to plea of Essar Steel

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre and Odisha government on a plea of Essar Steel India Ltd seeking grant of mining lease to ensure iron ore supply to its integrated steel plant set up at Paradeep in the state. 
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notices on the plea of the steel firm seeking a direction to Odisha government that a recommendation for grant of mining lease in favour the firm be sent to the Central Mines ministry. 
"The respondents (Odisha and Centre) have failed to perform their contractual obligations under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (signed between the company and Odisha govt on April 21, 2005) for no just and sufficient cause. 
"The applications made by the petitioner company for grant of mining lease/prospecting license in respect of certain specified areas are pending for consideration of Odisha government since year 2004 with no progress made at all in any of them," the petition said. 
The "inaction" of the state government is "unexplainable" and has "caused harm" to the company which has taken various "irreversible" steps including setting up an integrated steel plant at Paradeep by investing over Rs 5300 crores, it said. 
Besides setting up the steel plant, the company, as per the terms of MoU, also agreed to set up a captive power plant and beneficiation plant with the original estimated cost of Rs 10,721 crores on the promise that the state government would recommend to the central government grant of mining leases to the firm, it said. 
"The company has in all made 12 separate applications for obtaining iron ore reserves, out of which grant of 10 applications are for mining leases in respect of certain specified areas in them and the remaining 2 applications are for grant of prospecting licenses for the areas specified in them," it said.