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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Maharashtra set to auction iron ore, bauxite dumps

Maharashtra has huge dumps of bauxite, iron and manganese.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Published: January 12, 2020 2:30:21 am
Maharashtra set to auction iron ore, bauxite dumps According to new policy guidelines issued by the industries department, the mining dumps are proposed to be auctioned on “as is where is” basis. (Representational Image)

THE UDDHAV Thackeray-led government has given mining activity in the state a push by issuing fresh guidelines for the auction of tonnes of mining dumps.

Maharashtra has huge dumps of bauxite, iron and manganese. According to new policy guidelines issued by the industries department, the dumps are proposed to be auctioned on “as is where is” basis. The norms will be applied for disposal of mining dumps of major mineral outside the “legal mining areas”.

The new guidelines, issued on January 8, come even as uncertainty continues over fresh extraction of ore in the country. Apart from the disposal of low grade ores and overburdened dumps on government and private land and forest areas, the guidelines are also meant to give the mining industry a push, said sources. They also come at a time when a mounting debt on the public exchequer has forced the government to look at additional sources to mop up revenue.

The dumps have also impacted the fertility of the surrounding soil, sources said, adding that most date back to the period when no technology for mining of the dumps was available.

While a decision regarding the disposal of over-burdened mine dumps was first taken in 1977, it was not until March 15, 2014, when the government came out with a policy for their disposal.

Revised guidelines have now been issued to push the activity, said sources. “In the 2014 policy, the government had entrusted the task of valuation and assessment of the ore to the collectors’ offices. But they found it difficult to undertake the exercise owing to lack of expertise. So, we have roped in the director of geology and mining (DGM) for the task,” said a senior official. In the revised policy, the DGM has also been asked to fix the offset price for the auction following assessment.

As far as mining dumps on private land is concerned, the landowners will get the first right to dispose of the dump at the highest bid accepted in the auction process. If the owner fails to deposit the equivalent amount within a week, the right of disposal will go to the highest bidder.

While requiring bidders to deposit 25 per cent of the offset price as security deposit, the government has said that the winning bidder will be required to obtain prior permission from the Union environment ministry and other departments before starting disposal work.

Penalties have been prescribed if excavation of more than the prescribed depth and width is carried out, in which case it would be construed as “illegal excavation”.

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