The Telegraph
Thursday , January 12 , 2017

'Mine lease renewals wrong'

Ranchi, Jan. 11: State parliamentary affairs minister Saryu Roy has written a letter to chief minister Raghubar Das objecting to cabinet's decision to give in-principle approval to extend leases of 105 mines, many of which had been shut for violating norms.

The cabinet decided to extended the leases at a meeting on December 28 when Roy was out of station. But, Roy claimed, that<> when he called on the chief minister the next day to cite his objections, he did not pay attention. "The matter related with mining lease in the state had always been contentious. In 2015, a committee under the chairmanship of then development commissioner (R.S. Poddar) was formed. On its findings and recommendations, leases of 21 mines (iron ore mines in West Singhbhum) were cancelled because of the fact that all had violated mining rules," Roy said in his letter.

"The government took possession of all but three mines. The three parties (miners) who moved the court were able to get a stay as the government pleader did not contest the matter strongly. In August 2016, the Jharkhand High Court ruled that if the miners do away with all irregularities and the government confirms the same, then they can mine or the leases shall be cancelled.

"The government started the process of cancelling the lease, but apparently the prescribed norms were not followed. Meanwhile, the government brought the matter to the cabinet and now an in-principle decision has been taken to extend their leases," Roy said in the letter.

Roy said he wanted to air his views yesterday before the cabinet meeting. "But, you were not ready to listen a word. It hurt me.... The matter should not have been brought before the cabinet. It was the prerogative of the state mines department either to extend the leases or cancel them on a case-to-case basis as per the MMDR Act. Giving in toto approval to extend leases of 105 mines is an irregularity and illegal act," he has pointed out. Senior government officials are divided on the issue. Some say the cabinet decision seems "unjustifiable" as the ICFRE, Dehradun has imposed a cap on mining in the Saranda region.

Others pointed that the cabinet had only taken an "in-principle" decision to extend the leases and that mining companies could resume operations only after fulfilling certain conditions.

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