The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Jindal Stainless’ (JSL) appeal seeking to restrain the Odisha government from granting third renewal of Tata Steel’s (TSL) mining lease till 2033 for chromite ore in the Jajpur district of the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu while rejecting JSL’s plea observed: “Where is the question of hearing a third party to consider someone’s renewal… the renewal is between the authorites and TSL.”
Senior counsel P Chidambaram argued that the Odisha government “appears to be acting in haste to grant a renewal of the mining lease to TSL without considering and taking into account the relevant factors so as to form a balanced, reasonable and unbiased opinion that would be in the interest of mineral development and also in the interest of the society at large”.
Apart from JSL, Indian Metal & Ferro Alloys, Ferro Alloys Corporation and Ballasore Alloys are the other alleged applicants for the mining lease.
Contrary to TSL, which manufacturers only intermediate products like ferro chrome and chrome concentrate for trading and doesn’t consume the minerals for captive use, JSL’s need for steady supply of minerals is essential to keep the 1.6 MTPA integerated stainless steel plant operational, JSL said. It said the plant requires 6,25,000 MTPA of chrome every year.
Even the captive requirement of TSL is far less than the area held by it under the mining lease, it said, adding that the law earlier declared by the Orissa High Court and affirmed by the Supreme Court in respect of second renewal to TSL holds good for the third renewal and the same is binding on all the parties.
According to JSL, if no hearing is granted at the second or subsequent renewals, then the intent of the MMDR Act will be lost as it would result in automatic renewal after every 20 years even without objective consideration of the criterion of interest of mineral development.