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Auction 37 non-coal blocks by Mar 10: PMO to MinesMin

Move to help govt mobilise revenue of around Rs21K crore.

Written by Priyadarshi Siddhanta | New Delhi | Updated: February 6, 2015 1:43:14 am

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has set a deadline of March 10 to begin the auctioning of 37 out of 199 non-coal mines in the first phase. The process will help the government mobilise around Rs 21,000 crore.

As the first phase of auction is likely to be completed this fiscal, it may make up the deficit from stake sale proceeds, currently amounting to Rs 19,000 crore.

The government has, so far, raised Rs 24,320 crore from divesting stakes in Coal India and SAIL in the current financial year against its target of Rs 43,425 crore from disinvestment in 2014-15. While less than two months are left in the current fiscal, the government is short by Rs 19,105 crore of the target.

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The PMO wrote to the mines ministry on Thursday asking it to “immediately finalise the procedure for auctioning of prospecting leases (PLs) and prospecting-cum-mining leases (PML) and issuing model bidding documents.”

With over 60,000 applications for mining concessions pending with Central and state governments, the PMO has reminded that it is imperative to “expeditiously” harness the strengths of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance promulgated last month and “…to initiate the auction process in key states by March 10, 2015…”. The time frame for subsequent phases for auctioning would be decided soon, a mines ministry source said.

Narendra Singh Tomar-led mines ministry has identified 199 leases of non-coal mineral bearing areas of which it has found that 37 are easily explorable. The PMO has suggested time-bound finalisation of procedure to auction PLs and PMLs and identifying more mineral-wise mines which can be auctioned.

The mines to be auctioned are located in Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Goa. To ensure processing of applications within a defined time frame, the PMO has asked the ministry to develop field systems and technology applications for tracking of lease approval or renewal and monitoring evacuation of the explored mineral.

While the ordinance seeks to arrest the decline of the mining sector and contain illegal mining, the needs of the hour is also to facilitate allocation and transfer of mineral concessions in a fair and transparent manner, the PMO said. The entire proceed from the auction would go to the states, the government has decided.

Indicating that the Geological Survey of India alone would not be able to undertake massive exploration, the PMO has suggested that the ministry should notify other entities which can execute similar task.

In this context, setting up of national mineral exploration trusts, as announced in the Ordinance, should be ensured on a priority basis to fund exploration projects.

Also crucial is to evolve a mechanism to certify and monitor mining plans, setting up district mineral foundations in the states and computing additional levy to be paid by miners in their bids, the PMO suggested.

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