Putting months of hectic parleys and industry clamour against the issue at rest, the Central government, recently, by exercising its powers conferred under the proviso to Clause (b) of Sub-Section 1 of Section 6 of the MMDR Act, 1957, increased the area limit of mining leases in respect of iron ore and associated minerals to the extent of 58 sq km in Odisha.
The state government of Odisha had been seeking relaxation of the prescribed area limit of 10 sq km of mining leases for iron ore and associated minerals as specified in the above clause of the said Act for some time. Total resources of iron ore in the state are at around 7,558 million tonnes (MnT) as per data from the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM).
The Ministry of Mines, looking at things from “the scientific mining and mineral conservation perspective”, is putting more “focus on larger mining blocks”.
Consequently, in a recent letter to the government of Odisha, it said: “... In order to facilitate supply of iron ore and associated minerals in the interest of development of the steel industry, the area limit specified under Section (1)(b) of the MMDR Act, 1957, for mining lease in respect of iron ore and associated minerals in the state of Odisha needs to be enhanced.”
The letter added: “...therefore, the Central government, in exercise of its powers conferred under the proviso to Clause (b) of Sub-Section 1 of Section 6 of the MMDR Act, 1957, hereby increases the area limit of mining lease in respect of iron ore and associated minerals to the extent of 58 sq km in the state of Odisha.”
Prior to the amendment of the Act in 2015, the relaxation could be sought by the state government for an individual lessee on a case-to-case basis. Over the last four years, many states have obtained this exemption for minerals like limestone, bauxite and iron ore. The density of ore mineralisation across areas varies widely from state to state. Globally, Argentina, Western Australia, Bolivia, Brazil and Canada do not have rules limiting mining areas.
Need For Fair Distribution Of Resources
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