Not a single auction even a month after new mines act, says secy Anup K Pujari
New Delhi: Regretting that states have not auctioned even a single mine despite a clear minerals policy framework, the Centre has asked them to expedite the auction process for iron ore, bauxite, limestone and others, a top official said yesterday.
"One month down the rule, not one mine has been auctioned anywhere in any state... I can take a horse to water but whether the horse will drink water or not I have no control," Mines Secretary Anup K Pujari said.
The Centre is in constant touch with states on the issue as the Mines and Mineral Ordinance was issued on January 12, while the notification was made on March 27 and Rules were published on May 27, Pujari said, addressing the 4th India Minerals & Metals Forum" by ICC.
"We are trying to tell state governments please go ahead with auctions... Please realise that auction of coal is done by the centre and auction of mines will be done by state governments," Pujari said.
He also expressed disappointment that non-captive mines have failed to begin production despite the government extending forest and environment clearance to them till March 31, 2020.
"We are trying to bring in transparency. A society grows in transition from one level of understanding to other. Government has framed policies. Having done our part we also expect response. I feel very odd that all the non captive mines have not begun production despite their tenure of lease extended to March 31, 2020," Pujari said.
He added: "On April 1, 2020 non captive mines will come up for auction as of now. That is law. If you are a reasonable and rational human being, reasonable entrepreneur what will you do. If you have not done any malpractice, you will start production.. You should be able to start your mines tomorrow. I would like to understand from you what is it that is preventing it from happening. Why non captive mines are not producing. What is it that is stopping them."
The Centre has also said that to reopen such mines, companies do not require either a fresh forest or environment clearance, he said.
Pujari said in states where the mining ban was imposed by the Supreme Court and a cap was fixed, demands were being made to enhance the limit of production whereas they were unable to produce the quantity fixed.
Citing Karnataka's example where the apex court has fixed a cap of 30 million tonnes on iron ore, Pujari said, "In Karnataka for the last two years production has seldom exceeded 20 MT. Rather than going into micro aspect of where the shoe is pinching you want to change the shoe."
He said the miners should come forward to fulfil their duties and added that the government is willing to walk an extra mile to rescue and help them.
He stressed that mining sector required a growth of at least 15 per cent if Indian economy has to growth to 9-10 per cent.
Pujari said: "I am hopeful that in the current year, (mining) shall grow by 15 per cent" on the back of higher coal and lignite production.
On consequences of delays in auctions, he said it would not impact mining as new mines were only 5-7 per cent of the existing mines in any given year.
Asked why states were not able to start auctions, Pujari said all the formalities by the Centre have been done in this regard including uploading of a model tender document by the Centre. "Therefore, if the state governments want to go for auctions, there is no impediment or any requirement to be completed by the Government of India."
He added however that Justice M V Shah Commission had recommended identifying boundaries for mining leases and some states are trying to fulfil that. "We can only request the states to expedite."
On formation of District Mineral Fund, he said states were on board and some states like Odisha, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have submitted their views.
He said quantum and dates of implementation of DMF will be decided by the central government.
"Formation of DMF will be done by responsible state governments but what will be the contribution will be decided by the Centre and what date it will state, we will notify," Pujari said.
He added that states have to identify the number of mines to be auctioned as many mines in the list of 199 given by them earlier were not ready.
Earlier this month, Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the Centre is working with states to start by year-end the auction process.
Parliament passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 in March, paving the way for auction of these mines.
The government has also provided for the establishment of DMF to enhance the standard of living of mining affected people. Existing miners will contribute an amount equivalent to the royalty towards DMF, whereas new miners will contribute an amount limited to the one-third of royalty.
It is estimated that DMF will receive Rs 10,000 crore on an annual basis, he added.