'Mine is yours for 30 years'

Govt renews lease of mining firm owned by BJP MLA, violating rule

 The instance pertains to Sri Balaji Minerals, a firm owned by Anand Singh, a BJP legislator. According to the documents obtained by the Deccan Herald, the government in 2006  ‘renewed’ the mining lease of the firm for 30 years, against the statutory provision of 20 years. And the route adopted - resetting the effective date of renewal - from 1987 to 1997, thus effectively granting lease for 30 years.
 
Section 8(2) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, states: “A mining lease may be renewed for a period not exceeding twenty years.”

Modified order

The lease for 80.92 hectare in Vyasankere village, Hospet taluk was renewed in 1987 for a period of 20 years. The first term of the renewal was from 1987 to 1997 and the second term covered the period from 1997 to 2007. The renewal for the second term was granted vide an order dated February 25, 1999 of the Department of Industries and Commerce.

In May 2007, the department issued a strange order. It “modified” the February 1999 order (pertaining to second term) to make the renewal for 20 years effective from 1997 instead of 1987.

The order, issued by Undersecretary (Mines), Jagadish Jois states the February 1999 order is modified to read that the state government accords sanction “for a period of 20 years (twenty years) with effect from 13.01.1997 in favour of M/s S.B. Minerals.”
Following the order, a mining lease deed was executed between S B Minerals and Department of Mines and Geology. The deed clearly shows that the lease period is for 20 years with effect from January 13, 1997.

The Reddy parallel

The case of Anand Singh strikes a parallel with that of Tourism Minister Janardhana Reddy and Obulapuram Mining Company in Andhra Pradesh. The AP government had reset the starting date for renewing of the lease from 1984 to 1997.

The Central Empowered Committee, in its report to the Supreme  Court has termed the procedure and the mining subsequent to the scheduled date, illegal.

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