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Row over mines deal in Chhattisgarh

Written by: Staff
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Raipur, Apr 5 (UNI) Public sector Bhilai Steel Plant and the Chhattisgarh government are at loggerheads with both blaming each other for the circumstances leading to de-reservation of an iron ore block at Rowghat in Bastar region and its allotment to private companies.

While the state government maintained that the Rowdongri block of iron ore at Rowghat was de-reserved with the ''Consent'' of the public sector undertaking, BSP Managing Director R P Singh disputed the claim saying that it was the prerogative of the government to reserve, de-reserve and allot mines to any company.

Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, during a discussion in the Vidhan Sabha over the issue, had maintained that the mines were allotted to the private company with the 'consent' of the BSP Managing Director.

The plant official, however, said ''We have not given any NOC. Do you think that anyone will do so when such a profit-making plant need raw material for its expansion?'' Asked whether he felt that the state government's contention on the floor of the House was misleading, Mr Singh quipped, ''We don't know as to who said what and where it was said. Our position is that we have not given any no-objection certificate to de-reserve the mines''.

Stung by BSP's denial, the state government described the BSP Managing Director's statement as 'misleading' saying that the public sector unit did not disclose full facts, causing confusion.

In a press release issued late last night, the state government pointed out that BSP had given its 'consent' for de-reserving Korgaon block, which was earlier reserved for the Steel Authority of India (SAIL), and later a proposal was sent for allottment of this blocks to M/s Jaiswal Necco Limited.

It pointed out that BSP's General Manager (Mines) gave a written information in this regard on July 10, 2003 to the state's principal Secretary (Mining).

On the basis of this written submission, the release said, the state government made a recommendation to the Centre to de-reserve Korgaon block, a part of Rowghat 'F' deposit in Kanker district.

Subsequently, the Union Ministry of mines sent a letter to the state government in December 2003, along with the minutes of a meeting held in 2003 which was attended by representatives of Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Ministry of Mines and Indian Bureau of Mines.

It was decided at this meeting to dereserve Rowdongri block for M/s Jaiswal Necco Limited in place of Korgaon block, the state government said, adding it was a unanimous decision. The further process, which was initiated by the state, was on the basis of this decision.

''It's very unfortunate that a senior officer of the stature of BSP Managing Director did not present a complete picture about the facts,'' the release added.

According to the state government, there is about 47 million tonnes iron ore reserves in Rawdongri block while there are about 500 million tonnes iron ore reserves at DalliRajhara, Kalwar and the areas of Rowghat, which were reserved for the Steel Auithority of India (SAIL).

The state government also maintained that a recommendation had already been made for granting lease of the Rowghat iron ore mines, which have been reserved for the SAIL.

At present SAIL was in the process of preparing a mining plan from the Indian Bureau of Mines, the state government pointed out, adding that BSP was also making efforts to get necessary clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

When contacted, a Bhilai Steel Plant spokesman said senior officials were still discussing the situation arising out of the state government's claims regarding de-reservation of Rowdongri and he was not in a position to comment at the moment.

UNI JJ SP SS DB1318

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