Covid hits mines revival, auction in State

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Covid hits mines revival, auction in State

Monday, 28 September 2020 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR

While the Odisha Government is preparing a roadmap for revival of non-working mines to spur the mining activities, the Covid-19 is coming as a stumbling block in this regard.

Revival of non-working mines and expeditious auction of the mineral blocks will augment the production of minerals and also increase the revenue of the State Government by way of auction premium and royalty, but the process is experiencing hurdles during the pandemic.

While almost all revenue generating sectors failed to generate revenue in the ongoing crisis, the mineral sector stood by the State in good stead and has been able to generate resources to support the developmental funding, officials admit. Collection up to August 31, from mineral sector was Rs 5,074.25 crore, which was 13.44 per cent more than the corresponding period of August 2019, which was Rs 4,473 crore.Mainly one-time collection from mining leases renewal provided much needed fiscal space to meet the Covid-19 related expenditure on public health, livelihood generation, social security net and internal security, officials admit.

So the Department of Steel and Mines is actively engaged in preparing a road map for revival of non working mines, officials say.While the Government of India is harping on revival of non working mines across the country and advised the State Governments to work on this line, the Odisha Government is initiating appropriate action for activation of these resources.

The Odisha Government has been successful in going for auction of 22 mineral blocks and, now, the stress is on revival of non working mineral blocks in the State.  The Ministry of Mines has charted out a design for revival of non working mines and listed out the unutilised resources.  After revival of these non working mines, the process will start for auctioning of these natural resources, so that there will be proper utilisation of the resources. The mineral blocks, where exploration has been completed, are to be listed for auction and those mineral blocks, which are under exploration, the process will be expedited, so as to complete it as soon as possible, said sources.

The Ministry of Mines is also providing inputs to the State Government for preparing the road map and accordingly the action plan is being prepared by the Department of Steel and Mines, officials say.

Though the process has been activated, the Covid-19 has posed a serious problem in this regard, officials admit.While Covid-19 has presented an adverse situation, the authorities are reluctant to go ahead with auction process as condition is not favorable. Accordingly, Minister Steel and Mines had requested to defer auction of coal blocks by three months. Out of the 41 coal blocks, nine are listed from Odisha for auction.

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