As many as 54 mining leases in Odisha are operating under deemed extension following the expiry of their leases. The expiry period of the leases ranges from five to 25 years.
According to information given by Minister for Steel & Mines Rajani Kant Singh in the state assembly, mine owners like Tata Steel, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Essel Mining & Industries Ltd (EMIL), Mid East Integrated Steel Ltd, Ferro Alloys Corporation (FACOR), Rungta Sons and KJS Ahluwalia are operating their leases under deemed extension.
The leases include seven of Tata Steel-Khandabandh, Katamati, Joda West, Bamebari, Joda East, Manmora and Guruda & Tiringpahar and two of EMIL – Jilling-Langalota iron ore mines and Kasia iron ore, dolomite and limestone mines- all in Keonjhar district.
It may be noted that the Odisha government had drawn flak from the Supreme Court appointed Central empowered committee for allowing leases to continue operations under deemed extension for long periods.
The CEC in its report in April 2010, had pointed out the misuse of 'deemed extension' clause in Odisha under Rules 24-A (6) of Mineral Concession Rules-1960.
"Under the garb of deemed extension clause [Rules 24-A (6)] of Mineral Concession Rules-1960 and because of the non-implementation of the provisions of the Forest [Conservation] Act and the other applicable Rules and Guidelines, widespread and rampant illegal mining operations have been taking place in Odisha. The organised illegal mining is taking place with the active support of the state government and has resulted in the breakdown of the constitutional machinery,” the CEC report had mentioned.
The committee further observed that a large number of mines have remained operational for long periods of time after the expiry of the lease period because of the delays in taking decisions on the renewal applications filed by the respective mining leaseholders. Consequently, the mines had become eligible for 'deemed extension' as provided under rule 24-A (6) of Mineral Concession Rules-1960.
"This provision [deemed extension clause] is not meant to be availed of indefinitely. Moreover, continuing mining over a long period of time without renewal of the mining lease becomes a potential source for serious illegalities and irregularities,” the CEC report stated.