Bhubaneswar: In what may prove to be a boon for the mining sector in Odisha, an inter-departmental committee on Saturday recommended that the Odisha government extend the lease period of 26 mines.

The extension has been recommended under the provisions of the new Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015.

The committee, headed by Development Commissioner U.N. Behera, made the recommendation for 26 mines, including 18 non-captive mines, which were shut by the Supreme Court in May, 2014.

However, the state government would take the final call over the extension of the mines.

“The inter-departmental committee has recommended for extension of 26 mines in the state. All the mines have statutory clearances including forest and environment clearances.

“The decision recommending reopening of the closed mines was taken in accordance with the provisions of the new MMDR Act 2015,” said Mines director Deepak Mohanty.

He said the committee has recommended extension of lease period till 2030 for captive mines and till 2020 for non-captive mines as per the provisions of the MMDR Act.

The 26 mines, whose reopening was recommended include the 22 mines, that were closed for second and subsequent renewal following the Supreme Court orders and four non-iron and manganese mines.

While the Supreme Court had closed down 26 mines last May, the government had issued order for eight mines to operate in the state.

Out of the mines operating under express order, lease deeds have been executed for three mines belonging to SAIL and one belonging to OMC has been given an extension.

Now, the committee has recommended extension of lease period of the remaining four mines of Tata steel operating under express order, said Mohanty.

But operations of 18 mines continue to be suspended since the government did not pass similar orders to facilitate the resumption of their operation.

The state government had sought additional time of two months from the apex court this February to decide the fate of the non-captive mines.

The government had pleaded that scrutiny of these cases needed more time in the aftermath of introduction of new provisions in the MMDR Amendment Ordinance, 2015.

Source: IANS