Company failed to submit mining plan, get statutory clearances

The Oommen Chandy government gave a two-year extension to MSPL, a private company, to submit a mining plan and get statutory clearances from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to mine for iron ore at Chakkittapara as recently as March 14 this year.

The extension seems to have been given taking advantage of a leeway given under Rule 22(4) of the Mineral Concession Rules, which deals with the procedure on receipt of an application for the grant of a mining lease. The extension was given this year despite a two-year window given to the company in 2011 to procure the mining plan and clearances.

The State had in 2010 accorded “in-principle approval” for granting the mining lease to the company for mining for iron ore over an area of 406.45 hectares at Chakkittapara.

The Government Order said the government had “examined the matter in detail” before granting the extension for furnishing of mining plan and clearances. It said the mining lease would be granted subject to the outcome of litigation in the Delhi High Court.

Two years later, the company had neither submitted the mining plan nor procured the statutory clearances. Despite this lapse, an extension was given on March 14, 2013.

This Government Order says the private company has requested for another two years, starting in January 2013, for the submission of the required documents. The government readily agreed to the two-year extension with effect from January 23.

Four days after this order, on March 18, 2013, things started rolling with the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests writing to the Divisional Forest Officer, directing the latter to permit MSPL to conduct a survey in the “forest area” of Chakkittapara. “On October 31, the local people stopped the survey team,” K. Sunil of the village says.

A meeting was held on November 2. Its minutes highlighted the apprehensions of the Chakkittapara grama panchayat about the prospective use of forest land for mining.

  • Order allowed survey of mining area

  • Local people stopped the survey team