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State to seek more time for mining lease renewal process

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Monday decided to request the High Court to grant some more time for completion of mining lease renewal activities as it is not able to meet the June 15 guideline.
The decision was taken at the review meeting of the inter-departmental panel headed by development commissioner cum additional chief secretary J K Mohapatra.

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"Though the High Court had asked the state government to complete the mines lease renewal activities by June 15, it will not be possible in view of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) February 1, 2013 guideline," said Director of Mines Deepak Mohanty.
Mohanty said the MoEF guideline categorically stated that all the operating mines must have full forest diversion clearance in order to get renewal of mine lease permission.
Of the 59 operational mines in Odisha, 55 have partial forest diversion clearance. MoEF guideline further said that the mines lease areas which did not have full forest diversion clearance, needed to return the portion of lease hold area.
"In order to satisfy the MoEF guideline, the government will ask all the mines to submit their forest diversion clearance on their full lease hold area instead of on portions," Mohanty said adding unless the mines lessees submitted forest clearance report, the state could not recommend for renewal of their leases.
The state government had received 323 applications for mine lease renewal of which 135 had been rejected by the steel and mines department. .
Earlier, the Orissa High Court on December 21, 2012 had expressed anguish saying "we are extremely disturbed over the pending applications for renewal of mining leases" and verbally observed that "the State government was deliberately delaying disposal of renewal applications." 
Mohanty said one has to be careful before disposing the case as matters like forest clearance, environment clearance and other factors are closely linked to the process.
On mines operating under deemed extension, the official said: "We will allow these mines to continue operations so long as they have the clearances." 
The list of mines operating under deemed extension includes Tata Steel, Ferro Alloys Corporation Ltd (FACOR), Essel Mining & Industries Ltd Mid-East Integrated Steel, Patnaik Minerals Ltd, R P Sao, Rungta Mines and OCL India among others.
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