MAC: Mines and Communities

Cancel Leases: Cong To Govt

Published by MAC on 2006-06-08
Source: Statesman News Service

Cancel leases: Cong to govt

Statesman News Service, BHUBANESWAR

8th June 2006

The state Congress has asked the government not to provide mining lease to any company or individual and vest all such areas to the state~run Orissa Mining Corporation ( OMC). It suggested that existing mining leases be cancelled. The resolution was adopted by the OPCC yesterday. It said mineral based companies which would put up their plants in the state can purchase their ore requirement from OMC at market rate.

The Congress apparently wants to clear itself from the charge that it had been instrumental in providing valuable mineral wealth to individuals and private companies. Apart from that the stand would put the BJD-BJP government in a spot. The Congress has been accusing the Naveen Patnaik government of squandering away mineral wealth of the state by indulging in a "mindless" industrialisation spree which includes signing of at least 40 MoUs for steel plants.

Having levelled allegations of kickbacks by luring industrialists with a captive mines clause, the Congress leaders felt it was time to back this charge up with a declaration that all mines should be handed over to OMC and private companies can purchase ore at market rate.
Sources said former law minister Mr Narasingha Mishra mooted the proposal. He was backed by several Congress leaders putting even the AICC general secretary Mr V Narayanswamy in a spot of bother given the policy of the Central government. The point that the Central act needs to be amended if the demand for cancellation of existing lease had to be carried out was also discussed. For cancellation amendments by the Centre is needed while for issuance or recommendation of mining lease it is entirely within the purview of the state government.

In fact the demand to give mining areas to OMC and ask all industries to buy ore at market rate is expected to click with the general public who somehow suspect that industries are coming to the state to exploit the mineral wealth by taking captive mines and paying a pittance in terms of royalty. The ruling BJD-BJP combine cannot wriggle out of the fact that the market rate of ore is much higher than the royalty that it gets by providing captive mines to industries.

Another significant resolution taken by the OPCC here was about the OBC quota. While welcoming the 27 per cent reservation, the Congress leaders here wanted the government to act with caution and care rather than rushing into such sensitive issues. The nation wide agitation and repercussion should be borne in mind stated several Congress leaders much to a few so-called OBC champions in the party. In a state where caste based politics is negligible, a few OBC leaders who want to corner posts, are trying to misguide the party, said a Congress activist. The implicit reference was the likes of OPCC president Mr Jayadev Jena and a handful of others who allegedly try to play up the caste card and impress on central leaders who think cow belt equations are applicable throughout the nation.

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