State govt asked to iron out licence issues

In a bid to revive the fledgling iron and steel industry in Karnataka, apex body of miners,  Karnataka Iron & Steel Manufacturers' Association (KISMA) on Tuesday sought the Karnataka government's intervention to sort out matters expeditiously.

The Association said that about 37 factories have already closed down due to non-availability of sufficient iron ore and many operating at low capacity for the same reason.

In its letter submitted to the Chief Secretary,  Karnataka government, S V Raghunath, it said that against the total requirement of about 33 million tonnes of iron ore per annum, public sector mining company NMDC has been able to auction only about 26 million tonnes till date, apart from mining 1.5 million tonnes, in accordance with the Supreme Court directive.

The stockpile of ore is just about 1 million tonne, which has left the industry at multiple losses.  The shortfall has been accentuated by NMDC's production falling to 4.50 lakh tonnes in October, 2012. In this context, it said that though the Supreme Court allowed opening of 20 "A" and "A1" category mines on April 13, 2012, only four mines have resumed operations till now with a maximum annual production capacity of about 1.96 million tonnes.

 It said that 11 of the 13 remaining licences have to go through a long-drawn procedure of first obtaining approval by the Indian Bureau of Mines, after which approval have to be obtained from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and then from the Monitoring Committee for final permission before commencement of operations. 

The Monitoring Committee visit the mining sites once in a fortnight and gives clearances subject to the relief and rehabilitation plans submitted by the miners.

To expedite the entire process, KISMA appealed to the State government to convene a meeting of all stakeholders comprising the Monitoring Committee, Indian Bureau of Mines so that the necessary clearances are issued to allow miners to commence operations.

In case of category "B" mines,  KISMA claimed that there are 15 with a capacity of 6.14 million metric tonnes per annum; despite lease holders complying with relief and rehabilitation plans in accordance with the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court issued orders on September 29, 2012 asking the CEC to submit a report within three months.

However, KISMA said, the Committee is yet to be constituted.

It said that the state government should also take up the case with the Supreme Court for early disposal of category "A" mines clearances, apart from speeding up the clearances of category "B" mine leases. 

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