High-level meeting chaired by Odisha Chief Secretary

As more than 100 mines had been closed down in Odisha due to lack of statutory clearances following unearthing of the illegal mining scam, a high-level meeting on Monday decided to make mining activity a legitimate economic activity by complying with all statutory requirements through combined efforts of the State and Central governments.

The meeting was held at the Secretariat here under the chairmanship of Odisha Chief Secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra.

Union Mines Secretary Anup Kumar Pujari, Secretary and Union Steel Secretary G. Mohan Kumar and other officials attended the meeting.

Reviewing the present status of mining activity in the State, Mr. Pujari said all mining activities were not illegal. The legalised mining leases, which had been stalled due to the non-compliance to statutory clearances or some interdepartmental decisions, should be revived through joint expedited efforts both at the State and national level, he added.

Mr. Pujari said the Mines & Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957 was the governing legislation in the country and all issues relating to lease, auction, prospecting license, renewal etc. should be decided as per the provisions of the Act.

Available data shows that there were about 59 operating mines in Odisha, including 41 iron and manganese mines, six coal mines, one bauxite mine, five chromite and six limestone mines.

According to official sources, as many as 131 mines had been closed down for various reasons. It was decided at the meeting to look into all the details of the mines on a case-to-case basis and find out the reasons for their closure. It was also decided that if the closedown was for procedural reasons then steps would be expedited to revive them.

The issues relating to coal, water allocation and energy charges of National Aluminium Company (NALCO) and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) were also discussed at the meeting. Mr. Mohapatra asked the PSUs to settle the issues through mutual discussions without promoting further litigation in these matters.

The proposal was welcomed by both the PSUs and officers of Ministries concerned. It was decided to constitute a joint committee involving the Principal Secretary, Water Resource, Principal Secretary, Energy, authorities of SAIL, NALCO and other departments concerned to look into different aspects and work out solutions.