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Naveen keen to pursue firms willing to add value

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 18: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today stressed that his government was keen to permit licences only to companies that were willing to add value by establishing plants here.

Naveen was addressing newspersons before leaving for New Delhi, where he and four other ministers from mineral-rich states are slated to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to talk about the licence issue. Naveen said that he would urge the Prime Minister to make value-addition mandatory in the national mineral policy.

It may be noted here that the BJD-BJP government has made it a principle to recommend mines lease in favour of those industrial houses that agree to set up mineral-based plants in states. Official sources report that more than 45 steel, three alumina and 13 power companies have signed MoUs with the Orissa government to establish mineral-based industries. “If the Centre does not make value addition a mandatory principle in the national mineral policy, it will affect a state’s industrialisation process,” conceded the chief minister.

Naveen added that he would urge the Centre to make it compulsory for the firms to phase out export of mineral resources abroad. “We realise that if indiscriminate export is allowed, it would lead to depletion of resources,” said a senior official of the steel and mines department.

Official sources added that the chief minister was likely to demand a cap on the royalty of minerals on ad valorem basis.

The meeting of the chief ministers of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Karnataka was fixed after Naveen wrote a letter to Manmohan Singh, expressing resentment over the fact that the mineral-rich states were not taken into confidence before the national mineral policy draft was placed for cabinet approval.

He had asked the Prime Minister to discuss the matter with the five chief ministers before finalising the national policy on the basis of recommendations of Hooda Committee. Earlier on August 6, 2007 the five had met home minister Shivraj Patil, who heads the Group of Ministers (GOM), and requested for a discussion on the recommendations of the GOM, on mineral export and policy.

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