KARNATAKA

Action promised against stagnation in royalty collection from iron ore

Department of Mines, Goa, to conduct inquiry immediately

Prakash Kamat

PANAJI: The Goa Government has promised action after an immediate inquiry into the mysterious stagnation in royalty collection from iron ore from Goa's exporters in the private sector in 2004-05 despite the big growth in extraction and exports coupled with a mid-year revision of rates by the Centre.

The inquiry will be conducted by the State's Department of Mines, which was asked to compile relevant details, Mines Minister Digambar Kamat assured the Opposition in the Assembly during question hour on Friday. The Minister was earlier grilled by the Opposition (BJP) over lack of independent machinery with the Mining Department to enforce any of the laws pertaining to mining right from environment, forest or royalty collection. The leader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar, former Chief Minister, brought to the notice of the Government that while the royalty collected was Rs. 13.22 crores for 2002-03 and it rose to Rs. 16.12 crores in 2003-04, it had slipped to Rs. 15.95 crores for 2004-05.

Referring to the information earlier given by the Minister, Mr. Parrikar pointed out that this "virtual stagnation in collection" was not justified as not only the exports of ore have gone up from 17 million tonnes to 18 million tonnes but also the Centre had raised the royalty rates from October 14, 2004 to Rs. 11 from the earlier Rs. 7 per tonne (on an average) for the lowest slab for lumps.

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