The Union mines ministry is set to depute senior officials to visit states to identify “residual gaps in preparedness and expediting the process of putting up non-coal mining blocks for auction.”
After the existing mining law was amended in January, officials from the ministry and states have met thrice and debated on the contours and parameters of the proposed auctions.
Former mines secretary Anup K Pujari had on June 5 in a meeting with top mining officials of eleven states cautioned that the states must adopt a “punctual and professional approach” in planning the auction process.
“The preparedness of states for initiating and conducting mineral auction has been discussed in previous Central coordination-cum-empowered committee (CCEC) meetings. It is felt that, further consultation would be helpful in identifying residual gaps in preparedness for putting up blocks on auction. Further, it would help in facilitating the resolution of issues and expediting the process… ,” mines secretary Balvinder Kumar said in a missive to chief secretaries of 17 states.
Accordingly, senior officers of mines ministry will visit different states within couple of weeks for assessing preparedness of available blocks for auction and garnering feedback from the state governments, the mines secretary said. These states have together lined up 120 non-coal mineral blocks spread over 26,120 hectares for auctions, but the ground situation is that they are not fully prepared to execute them.
Despite being reminded in three rounds of CCEC meetings on January 19, April 13 and April 24 this year, none of 17 states have furnished a list of non-functional mines.
Even the list of cases where the prior approval had already been granted, mining leases have not been furnished by them. The next CCEC meet on August 4 is likely to witness intense debate between officials of the ministry and states on auction parameters.
The issue of executing auctions tops the agenda followed by the progress made by them in setting up district mineral foundations in their respective mining districts.
But the state governments have countered their inadequate preparedness saying unless the blocks to be auctioned have clearances forehand, they would not attract competitive bids. They also have issues in deciding the fixed and reserve prices.