Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to step up mineral production, the Centre has decided to incentivise states which have taken initiatives to auction more blocks, grant early clearances for auctioned mines and facilitate early start of production.
As the mining sector, despite its huge potential, remained under-explored and the annual mineral import is a whopping Rs 2.5 lakh crore against a production worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore, the Ministry of Mines has proposed to institute national level awards for best performing states in exploration, auction and operationalisation of mines to give a boost to mineral production.
The award will be given in three categories – iron ore, limestone and bauxite; minerals other than minor minerals, iron ore, bauxite and limestone; and minor minerals like mica, granite, marble (other than sand, stone and gravel), said a recent order from the Ministry to the State government.
In each category, there will be three awards and each award will consist of one plaque for State government and cash prize for Directorate of Mining and Geology. The award money will be `3 crore, `2 crore, and `1 crore for first, second and third prize respectively in each category.Odisha has a fair chance of winning awards. The State, which auctioned 34 mineral blocks including 24 whose leases expired by March 31, 2020, is the top performer in the country. A total 115 blocks have been auctioned in the country since the amendment of the MMDR Act, 2015.
The award money will be funded from the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) till regular budgetary allocation is provided. A six-member committee will be formed to select the best performing states, the order issued by Union Joint Secretary Veen Kumari D said.The committee will evaluate performances of each state on the basis of criteria fixed for each category carrying 100 marks. The top three states in each category will be awarded based on the combined performance in 2019-20 and 2020-21 at a special ceremony.
Odisha, a major mineral bearing State in the country, has been requested to submit detailed proposals to the Ministry about the steps taken in exploration, auction and operationalisation of auctioned (old) and greenfield mineral blocks.