By BS Reporter
The Odisha government is scheduled to hold talks with the officials of Union ministry of steel on Friday on various issues concerning major steel makers like Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), ArcelorMittal and Posco India.
A host of issues ranging from clearance for mines and allotment of new mines to acquisition of land for proposed steel projects are pending with the state government.
Maharatna PSU SAIL is awaiting Stage-II forest clearance for its Bolani iron ore mines in Odisha’s Keonjhar district. This mine produces 13,000 tonnes of iron ore per day.
SAIL has complied with all the conditions for grant of Stage-II forest clearance and submitted compliance report to the divisional forest officer-Keonjhar on May 24, 2012. The detailed compliance on conditions could not be processed as yet for want of site specific conservation plan which is pending with the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden in view of non-finalization of the Karo-Karampada elephant corridor reportedly passing through the mining lease area.
The steel maker has requested the state forest department to recommend its Stage-II forest clearance proposal to the Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF).
SAIL has also pointed out the anomaly in levy of royalty on iron ore by the state government. The steel PSU pointed out that since the state government is charging royalty on fines at lump rate since August 2009, the company’s Bolani and Barsuan mines are suffering an additional financial burden of Rs 9.80 crore per month.
Meanwhile, Posco India has sought early resumption of land acquisition activity for its 12 million tonne per annum greenfield steel plant proposed near Paradeep. Land acquisition for the mega project has been stalled since June 2011 despite continuous discussions and strong support of the Odisha government.
Moreover, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Posco India has expired in June 2010 and the revised pact is pending for government approval. Another Central PSU-Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) has evinced interest to set up a steel mill, beneficiation and pelletisation plants in Odisha at a total investment of Rs 2,000- Rs 2,500 crore on allotment of iron ore mines.
The state government had recently denied allotment of iron ore mines in favour of RINL, stating that a decision has been taken to reserve all the balance mineral bearing areas in favour of its own PSU- Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel maker that is facing resistance of locals over land acquisition, has sought renewal of its MoU that expired in December 2011. It has also urged the state government to expedite recommendation of its seven prospecting license (PL) and one mining lease (ML) application pending at the level of director (mines).