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Odisha readies 40 mineral blocks for auction; panel to decide on modalities

Jayajit Dash/Bhubaneswar 12 Jun 19 | 07:06 PM

After drawing a blank in mineral e-auctions in the last fiscal, Odisha has readied 40 blocks for auction in 2019-20.

The blocks to be offered for auctions are a mix of virgin deposits and leases, owned by private miners, which are set to expire by March 31, 2020.

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“Among the virgin blocks, we have lined up resources of iron ore, manganese, limestone and chromite. A high level panel of the state government will meet by the end of this month to decide on the modalities and time frame of auctions", said a government official.

In 2018-19, 19 mineral blocks were auctioned by states - nine were iron ore, five were limestone, three were graphite and one each were manganese and gold. The value of the resources to be auctioned is estimated at Rs 42,671.50 crore. Incremental contribution to states' revenue because of auctions is estimated at Rs 32,004.51 crore. For 2019-20, 10 mineral deposits worth Rs 6,331.08 crore have already been auctioned (as of May 23, 2018). 

Data collated by the Union mines ministry shows that the country has auctioned 64 mineral blocks since the promulgation of the amended Mines and Minerals - Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act, 2015. Total revenue accruing to states during the lease period of these mines, spanning 50 years, has been worked out at Rs 1.85 trillion.

Odisha, in the last fiscal, missed out on auctions owing to pending litigation over the maximum lease area. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi High Court putatively challenging the participation of one of the bidders, who already held in excess of 10 square km of lease area, violating the conditions in Mineral Auction Rules, 2015. The rules disqualify any bidder from participating in auction if 10 sq km or more area is already in its leasehold. Although Odisha had initiated auctions of Chandiposhi and Purheibahal, both iron ore blocks, they were restrained by the Delhi High Court. Before starting auctions, the Odisha government had requested the Centre to relax the ceiling on mineral lease area.

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