Orissa seeks time to respond to national mining policy proposal

October 30th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 30 (IANS) Orissa Thursday said it has sought two months to give its opinion on the new mining policy the central government plans to put in place, officials said.The state government received the draft of the new mining policy in the third week of last month. The state has now sought two months from the central government to respond, a senior official of Orissa’s department of steel and mines said.

“We have asked for two months,” steel and mines secretary A.M.R. Dalwai told IANS.

“Minerals are important resources and we are examining whether the rights of the states to utilise this resource to push development have been given priority or not,” another senior official of the department said.

The Orissa government is also consulting other mineral-rich states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan before sending the reply, he said.

Chief ministers of these states had last year submitted memorandums to the central government seeking several amendments in the draft policy.

Agriculture and mineral-based industries are the main economic activities in the mineral-bearing areas, these states had contended, and insisted the mining policy ensure there was value addition to the minerals sector.

The states also demanded adequate compensation for the use of minerals through an automatic ad-valorem-based royalty structure, saying this should not be left to the discretion of the central government.

Further, these states wanted export levy to be passed entirely on to them. An ad-valorem tax is a tax based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property.

The states had also earlier argued that in scheduled areas, at least five percent of the annual profit from mining should be set apart for socio-economic development of the tribal population.

The central government, led by the Congress party, has proposed a new mineral policy and is planning to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957.

The union cabinet, which cleared the new policy in March, has tabled it in the Rajya Sabha.

But, for the policy to take effect, the amendments to the policy need to be cleared by the cabinet, after which a bill has to be cleared by both houses of parliament.

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