State to cap quantum of ore to be mined at ‘C’ category mines

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Bangalore, Oct 23, 2013, DHNS: The State government has decided to put a cap on the quantum of ore to be mined every year,  henceforth, at the 51 ‘C’ category mines which will be re-auctioned in the near future.

The decision was taken on October 7 at a meeting of the Committee for the disposal of ‘C’ category mines headed by  Chief Secretary S V Ranganath.

Subsequent to massive illegal mining in the 51 ‘C’ category mines, which led to severe depletion of the iron ore reserves in the State, the government has now decided to form a six-member Ore Evaluation Committee (OEC) for evaluation of these mines. “The yearly quantum of mining can be fixed for sustainable mining. Once the evaluation of the mining pits are done,” the government has said.

The OEC will be headed by the Director of Mines and Geology and have two forest officers, the regional mines controller from the Indian Bureau of Mines, the regional representative of the Geological Survey of India and the representative of the Karnataka State Remote Sensing Agency Application Centre as members. It has been recommended that the OEC shall have the additional director of Mines and Geology as the convenor.

The technical support for the purpose of valuation of these mines will be provided by Singareni Collieries Company Limited, a government of Andhra Pradesh undertaking.

On the re-auctioning of the 51 ‘C’ category mines, the State has decided to sanction the powers to an Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary. The committee will have all the powers to tender, approve and allot the mines, “under general superintendence and control of the Cabinet”.

The Empowered Committee will include Principal Secretary (Finance), Principal Secretary (Law), Additional Chief Secretary or Principal Secretary (Industries) as members and Secretary (Commerce and Industries) as the member secretary.

To seek SC nod

At the meeting, the secretary  for department of Commerce and Industries suggested that a proposal or scheme for auctioning of the 51 ‘C’ category mines be submitted to the Supreme Court. It is said that without the apex court clearance, the government cannot auction the ‘C’ category mines as there is no mention of ‘auctioning’ under the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 2010. Accordingly, after the Supreme Court gives its ‘due approval,’ the scheme can be implemented.

The proceedings of the meeting also suggest that the government intends to set up a parallel body, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) of government officials, to henceforth look into the matters of mining as per the apex court directions.

The committee for disposal of the 51 ‘C’ category mines has said: “There is no need to have a specially-registered company when all the members of the SPV are government officers. The functional autonomy of this government body can be ensured as it may only be reporting to the Cabinet through the Chief Secretary who would be the chairperson of the body and to no other authority.”

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