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A case for comprehensive mining policy in Orissa

By Our Staff Reporter

BHUBANESWAR, FEB. 6. The former Union Coal Minister and Rajya Sabha MP, Dilip Ray, has called for a comprehensive mining policy in Orissa.

In a statement, Mr. Ray said since the State was lurching from one mining controversy to another in the recent times, it was time to review the situation.

The Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party Government should call for an all-party meeting to discuss and formulate a comprehensive mining policy, he said.

"What the State is witnessing today is a mad rush of private entrepreneurs too eager to sign memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the Government and take away a slice of mines on the promise of setting up a plant. However, in reality most of them have been using this raw material in their factories outside Orissa with virtually no government control on their activities," Mr. Ray said.

The Congress leader said the problems plaguing the State's mining sector could be tackled effectively only if mining was accorded special industry status, the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) converted into a global mining company, and leasing of mines delinked from setting up of manufacturing units.

"With a little vision, OMC can turn into a mining power house by making tie-ups with international mining companies which could do mining in Orissa on its behalf with buyback arrangements. It will be the OMC's prerogative to sell this mineral wealth on the basis of long-term purchase agreements with an escalation clause to the prospective manufacturers.

"It is imperative that the Government, instead of directly leasing out mines, resort to supplying raw material to the manufacturing units through OMC on a demand and requirement basis," Mr. Ray said.

Citing examples of major international mining companies which only supply refined ore to manufacturers, Mr. Ray said it was important that the companies and corporations stick to their core business which will help create a level-playing field. In Australia, mining was an activity completely delinked from manufacturing end products, he pointed out.

`Beneficial tie-ups needed'

Observing that the OMC was facing criticism for lacking world class mining infrastructure, Mr. Ray said that for a beginning the corporation could tie up with the National Mining Development Corporation and private mining giants to ensure optimum recovery from the mines.

Stating that none of these steps could be taken without an iron will on the part of the Government, Mr. Ray said that there should be a State-wide debate over the issue when the controversies over bauxite mining at Tangarpada and Vedanta Alumina's project in Kalahandi were very much in the public domain.

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