As the Odisha government begins the process to auction iron and manganese mines, state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik on Monday appealed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to retain the biggest mines with the state government.
“I am requesting Naveen babu that if he wants vikas (development) for Odisha, 70 per cent of the big mines (in the state) should remain with the government,” Patnaik told journalists. “If necessary, make another corporation (like the Orissa Mining Corporation),” he said.
Odisha on Friday issued a notification for auction of seven iron blocks and three iron ore and manganese blocks.
BJD Minister for Planning and Convergence, Padmanabha Behera, said, “OPCC President is a mines owner. So what is his intention behind saying this?”
More than 300 mines across the country will see the end of their lease terms in March 2020. The list also features 24 working mines in Odisha. The auction will begin under new rules made by the NDA government in 2015.
Odisha has set a revenue target of Rs 8,500 crore from the mining sector in the 2019-20 financial year, and this is just over 70 per cent of the state’s non-tax revenue, as per the state government. The mineral revenue was Rs 6,176.91 crore in 2017-18.
In Odisha, iron ore is found in the districts of Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Jajpur. Chromite is present in Jajpur, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar districts, while manganese deposits are available in Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Rayagada and Balangir.