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Reacting to the Centre’s no to its administrative orders putting restrictions on mining lessees in the state, the Odisha government said that it is not bound to heed to the Central missive on the issue.
“They cannot compel us to withdraw the orders. We have not violated any act. These decisions were taken for benefit of stand-alone mineral based industries. We have followed all the rules and paraphernalia mentioned in the MMDR Act,” said Rajnikant Singh, state minister for steel and mines.
The Union ministry of mines, through three letters issued earlier this month, had asked Odisha to scrap three resolutions, pertaining to reservation of all the remaining mineral-bearing areas (not leased to any private entity) in favour of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), compelling standalone iron ore miners to sell at least half their output to state-based industries and restricting the area of a private lease to the extent of captive requirement at the time of renewal.
The string of resolutions, which industry watchers believed were to appease the Shah Commission probing cases of illegal mining, had sparked considerable resentment within the mining industry.
The state government though admitted that since all such decisions will have to be approved by the Central government, they should not worry.
“We have a right to reserve the excess lease area of a lessee beyond its captive use in favour of OMC, subject to the approval of the Central government. They can change our decision in the last minute, but they cannot force us not to think in the interest of our people,” he said.
The Central ministry has also objected to the resolution of the state steel and mines department dated December 5 last year. This had imposed condition, making it mandatory for mine lessees without end-use plants to sell at least half of their extracted iron ore to state-based consuming industries.
Terming the restriction a breach of the Constitution, the Centre had stated that such a restriction can be introduced only through appropriate legislation or amendment in the existing law.
The state government said it is currently consulting with experts over the legalities of the December order and will soon file a reply.
“The order of selling 50 per cent ore was for the benefit and growth of standalone mineral based industries. However, since the Mines ministry has termed it unconstitutional, then we will have to examine it and and then we will reply,” said Singh.