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Coronavirus | Lockdown fails to slow down iron extraction in Odisha

Road is seen deserted due to lockdown imposed by Odisha government, in Bhubaneswar. File   | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

When COVID-19 lockdown brought life to a halt across the country last year, it was business as usual for the mining sector in Odisha, said activists.

According to information obtained through the Right to Information, 1,109.86 lakh metric tonnes was extracted from January to December 2020.

“When the whole State was under lockdown and manufacturing sector could not function to their potential, the extraction went on unabated. Of the 1,109 lakh metric tonnnes, 240 lakh metric tonnes were exported,” said Pradip Pradhan, RTI activist who obtained information.

Mr. Pradhan said the Odisha government got richer by ₹5,663.68 crore on account of the extraction. He said lessees, who were operating merchant mines, continued operations and accrued huge profits.

Odisha, which accounts for 64% of India’s iron production, has been extracting the ore above 1,000 lakh metric tonnes for the past several years. It boasts of 33% of India’s reserve.

During the lockdown, the ore over 7,086.835 hectares was leased out to companies, he said.

According to the RTI information, during the India-China border standoff, huge quantities were exported to China through the Paradip Port.

Recently, sarpanchs of Talakanisar, Kumundi and Suakati — around the Gandhamardan Iron Ore mine in Keonjhar district — had urged the State-run Odisha Mining Corporation to stop transportation in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases. However, it is alleged that the company did not pay heed to the request.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 6:31:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-lockdown-fails-to-slow-down-iron-extraction-in-odisha/article34521008.ece

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