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‘Centre condoned delay in mining lease renewals’

‘Centre condoned delay in mining lease renewals’

06 Dec 2017 No comment 12 hits

Panaji: In a statement that could raise questions over the ongoing SIT investigation into illegal mining in the state, the Hede Business Group (HBG) on Wednesday said that it was the Union government which had condoned the delay in renewing mining leases and not the state government.

Chairman of the Hede Business Group, Prafulla Hede, argued that since the Union government had overlooked the delay by mining companies in seeking the required renewals and directed the state government to renew the mining lease for 20 years with effect from 1987, the question of the state government condoning the delay in renewal of mining leases between 1988 and 2007 did not arise.

"The condonation of delay in applying for renewal of the Collem mine licence was done in 1993 by the central government and the order was passed by it in its final order on February 9, 1993, to the state government in exercise of its revisionary powers," Hede said. "During that time, the state government had no powers to condone the delay and was duty-bound to comply with the central government's directives."

HGB held an iron ore mining concession since the Portuguese era and though the concession which was converted into a lease deed came up for renewal in 1987, the company failed to seek the renewal. In June 1992, HBG applied to the state government seeking renewal of the mining lease but the state government rejected the application since the time for renewal had passed.

HBG then applied to the Union ministry of mines, which set aside the state government's order refusing the renewal of the mining lease.

Hede produced an order issued by the joint secretary of the Union mines ministry M L Majumdar which states that the Union government had set aside the "impugned order" and which directs the state government to "decide the renewal application on merits".

"Our lease was renewed for a period of 20 years from 1987 and it came up for renewal in 2007. For some reason, the word condonation of delay was added to the lease deed in 2007 which was a mistake," Hede said.

He went on to hint that the ongoing investigation into allegations that HBG had illegally mined iron ore could be a means to settle political scores against Congress' Margao MLA Digambar Kamat. Kamat has been accused to condoning the delay by mining companies to renew the mining leases.

The SIT began a probe into HBG and its alleged ties with then chief minister Digambar Kamat after mines director Prasanna Acharya lodged a first information report (FIR) in 2014. Acharya had stated that between 1988 and 2007, illegal mining operations were carried out in title of concession bearing No. 30/1950 after Kamat exercised the condonation of delay option while renewing mining licenses.

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Source: ‘Centre condoned delay in mining lease renewals’

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