Centre seeks Odishas reply on mining licence for Posco

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 31 2014, 10:05am hrs
The Centre has sought a response from the Odisha government on grant of an iron ore licence to South Korean giant Posco for its R52,000-crore steel project.

The development comes in the wake of a high-level panel formed to address issues impeding mega projects in the steel sector.

"The state government has been asked to clear the discrepancies ... state government's reply is awaited," the mines ministry told an inter-ministerial group (IMG) that sought to know the status on grant of a prospecting licence (PL) for the Khandadhar ore mine.

The steel player's plans to set up a 12-million-tonne steel plant at Jagatsinghpur in Odisha, entailing an investment of over R52,000 crore, has been stuck for the last eight years on account of various regulatory hurdles and delays in land acquisition.

The IMG, which reviewed the progress of mega projects earlier this month, asked the mines ministry as to what steps were initiated after the apex courts May 2013 judgment on grant of licence for the Khandadhar iron ore mines, an official said.

The Supreme Court in May last year set aside the Odisha High Court order quashing the state government's decision to allot an iron ore licence to Posco for the Khandadhar hills in Sundergarh district, and had asked the Centre to consider all the objections raised by various parties pertaining to the mega steel plant and take a decision.

The High Court, on July 14, 2010, following a petition by Geomin Minerals, had set aside the state government's decision for allowing Posco to mine in the hills.

Geomin Minerals had contended before the court that it had applied for a prospective licence for the Khandadhar much before Posco did.

The Odisha government, which had moved the apex court, on October 29, 2010 on this issue, had contended that the High Court could not have quashed the states grant of licence to Posco as it was under section 11 (5) of Mines And Minerals (Development And Regulation) Act, 1957.

The state in January 2009 had recommended Posco to the central government for granting a prospective licence for Khandadhar iron ore reserves. PTI