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State pulls plug on 12 iron ore mines

Ranchi, Sept. 3: Twelve of the 17 working iron ore mines in Jharkhand were asked to shut operations from tomorrow by an order issued today by the state government, a move that will trigger a damning domino effect on Jharkhand’s big-ticket manufacturing sector, labourers, transporters and revenue.

The state’s express order, which comes in the wake of the Centre’s directive dated July 18 asking states to clamp mines running under deemed extensions under second or subsequent renewals, directly hits mines of SAIL, Tata Steel, Orissa Manganese and Minerals Private Limited and other prominent private miners.

All the 12 mines are in West Singhbhum.

State mines and geology department secretary Arun told The Telegraph the decisions had been taken in compliance with the July 18 order with amendments in rule 24 (A) 6 of Mineral Concession Rules 1960.

“The amendments in the central rule refer to closure of operations of iron ore mines that are under deemed extension clause for second and subsequent renewals. The 12 mines named are expected to close operations from tomorrow,” Arun said.

He added they had served notices to mines and in some cases started hearings in the wake of the Shah Commission report tabled in Parliament this August. “The report mentioned illegal mining in tune of over Rs 20,000 crore alone in Jharkhand by companies. We need to soon submit the action-taken report to the Government of India,” he added.

Though the state knows it will lose out on royalty and has no way to cushion the blow on thousands of dependent labourers and transporters, it can’t do much but wait for the owners to apply afresh for mining lease. Insiders suggest the companies concerned might also move court to get a reprieve from the state order.

Either way, it means an enforced ceasework.

Five iron ore mines that have been spared include Rungta Mines Limited, Anandita Traders, Usha Martin Limited, Messers Anil Kumar Khirwal and Shah Brothers. These mines had either been given fresh lease in the recent past, or they received or were awaiting their first renewal.

West Singhbhum district, a significant depository of iron ore, has in all 41 iron ore mines and one of manganese ore. However, of that lot, only 17 iron ore mines and a manganese ore mine had been working.

“According to amendments in Mineral Concession Rules, in case of first renewal, deemed extension is valid for maximum two years. The first renewal of at least two mines, M/s Anil Kumar Khirwal and Shah Brothers, are pending. The state needs to take a decision on those cases in the near future,” Arun said.


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