India’s mineral policy criticised by five states

March 29th, 2008 - 8:40 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Chief ministers of five states Saturday criticised the mineral policy and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to take away the states’ legitimate rights while extending mining rights. “The states’ right to select the best applicant should not be compromised in the name of seamless transition or security of tenure, and should not be usurped by the central government under any pretext,” a joint memorandum said.

“The government of India is anxious to promote free export of minerals in order to satisfy multinational mining companies (MNCs),” said the memorandum.

“If the policy is accepted as it is, it may result in a situation where a few mining MNCs acquire control over the vast mineral resources.

“On the other hand, public sector firms could have been utilised for procuring the best technology available in the world. In any case, reservation for state mining PSUs (public sector undertakings) should be continued,” it said.

The chief ministers who signed the memorandum were from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh (all Bharatiya Janata Party), Orissa (Biju Janata Dal) and Jharkhand (United Progressive Alliance).

The memorandum also demanded a task force to look into their demands before the policy comes into force.

It demanded that the principle of value addition within the state be recognised as a major consideration for grant of mineral concessions.

They said since minerals were finite resources, they should not be exported just to earn foreign exchange. Even if foreign exchange is the concern, the export of finished goods should be encouraged and not of minerals in the raw form.

The meeting at Orissa Bhavan here over the issue was among the chief ministers of four states. Jharkhand’s Water Resources Minister K.K. Singh represented Chief Minister Madhu Koda.

The cabinet gave its consent to the new policy March 13 with the target of attracting foreign investment to the tune of $250 million a year in the mining sector.

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