Auction route of granting mining lease ignored: Congress
: The Odisha Congress on Wednesday alleged that the Naveen Patnaik government had recommended allotment of two bauxite deposits in favour of engineering and construction major, Larsen and Toubro (L&T), in violation of the existing law and by ignoring the auction route of granting mining lease (ML).
The two bauxite deposits — Sijimali and Kutrumali in Rayagada and Kalahandi district — could finally bail out the raw material-starved Vedanta Group, which was stripped of the Niyamgiri Bauxite deposit following tribal resistance, said Narasingh Mishra, Leader of Opposition, addressing a press conference here.
Condition of value addition
Mr. Mishra said L&T was awarded Prospecting Licence (PL) way back in 1992 on the condition that it would take steps for value addition of bauxite ore by setting up an industry within two years. Two years later the L&T had applied for a (ML) of Sijimali and Kutrumali in 1994.
“The Odisha government, however, rejected the mining lease application of L&T in 2001 stating that the company had not fulfilled the condition of value addition. An opportunity of hearing was also given to the company. Upon rejection of ML, the PL automatically stood cancelled. The company had also never challenged the rejection of ML in any forum,” said the Leader of Opposition.
MMDR Act amended
“After the NDA came to power, it amended the MMDR Act and made it mandatory for all mining leases to be granted through the auction route. However, there was a clause if the PL had been previously awarded, the State government could recommend granting of the ML to the Centre. Violating provisions of the amended MMDR Act, the Naveen Patnaik government suddenly decided to recommend ML for L&T,” he pointed out.
PL expiry factor
The Odisha government, ironically, recommended the mining lease in favour of L&T, although its PL automatically expired following the rejection of ML in 2001, Mr. Mishra charged.
“We apprehend without tactic understanding with the NDA at the Centre, the State government would not have recommended the mining lease. It is a clear violation of law that the recommendation of the mining lease was sent to the Centre without a valid PL,” said senior Congress leader.
Stating that Vedanta had entered into an understanding with L&T for bauxite mining, Mr. Mishra said the State government, with the ulterior motive, was giving Vedanta access to mining through an illegal route.
The Leader of Opposition alleged the State government was trying to manufacture the old files in order to make the case stronger in favour of the ML recommendation, but ‘fortunately’ he was in possession of the old file.
Vedanta is struggling to run its Lanjigarh alumina refinery by importing bauxite from other States.
Odisha government, recommended the mining lease in favour
of L&T, although its PL automatically expired following the rejection of ML in 2001
Leader of Opposition
The Odisha government, however, rejected the mining lease application of L&T in 2001 stating that the company had not fulfilled the condition of value addition