By BS Reporter
Concerned over rampant extraction of iron ore and its deleterious impact on environment, the Odisha government has decided to put a cap on the production of iron ore in the state at 52 million tonnes (mt) per annum.
Of the maximum permissible quantum of 52 mt of iron ore output to be effective from the current fiscal, 40 mt is the limit prescribed for Joda mining circle with the remainder 12 mt for Koira circle. Both Joda and Koira are the two most prolific iron ore mining sectors in Keonjhar district.
“We have taken a decision to cap iron ore output in the state considering the environmental impact. Our decision has been guided by the Supreme Court order that had raised grave concern over the environmental damage caused by iron ore mining in Karnataka's Bellary region,” a top official source told Business Standard.
However, he sought to allay concerns on the impact of this move to regulate iron ore production on raw material need of existing and upcoming steel and other end-use industries in the state.
“We have worked out the availability of the raw material and the demand of the industries. Even after capping iron ore produce at 52 mt, the state will still be able to cater to the requirement of local industries and will be left with an exportable surplus. The state government cannot allow any unrestrained growth in ore output at the expense of the environment,” he added.
It may be noted that the M B Shah Commission, constituted by the Centre to investigate illegal mining activities, had urged the Odisha government to imposed curbs on iron ore output to ensure that the finite resource is left for posterity.
Alarmed at the rampant production of iron ore, the state government had formed an 18-member committee chaired by Chief Secretary B K Patnaik to recommend the maximum quantity of ore that can be extracted from Joda and Koira. The recommendation was to be made factoring in environmental concerns as well as carrying capacity of existing road and rail infrastructure in the two mine rich belts. The committee had met recently, presumably to fix the cap on iron ore produce.