BENGALURU: In what appears to be yet another renewed effort to “profit” from the dead lands under the now defunct Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML), the Karnataka government and centre have joined hands to first explore the lands and then make way for the construction of an industrial park in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF).
With a whopping 13,000 acres of land remaining unutilised, on Friday, chief minister B S Yediyurappa and union minister for mines and coal Pralhad Joshi held a two-and-half-hour long discussion along with industries minister Jagadish Shettar and mines minister CC Patil on how best the issue can be resolved.
After the meeting, briefing the media, Joshi said the two governments have come to a conclusion that priority will be to survey the 13,000 acres of land by the Revenue department in the next three months.
“Once the land has been surveyed, the centre will then accord the central PSU mines exploration corporation limited (MECL) the rights to explore the BGML lands for any valuable minerals apart from the 3,000 acres of land which has been mined (for gold) and dumps are there,” said Joshi.
Once MECL completes the exploration, the centre will hand over all the land which is “untenable” for mining to the industries department for its construction of an industrial park.
“The industries department has sought roughly 3,200 acres of land for the industries park and we intend to provide them after the MECL exploration report is made available,” said the union minister.
At the other end, the much disputed premium and royalty stalemate on the richest iron ore mine in Karnataka, between the centre and state, has been cleared by the two parties.
The centre and state have decided to set up a three member committee for the Donimalai iron ore mine which has been shut for almost two years due to the deadlock on payment of an 80 per cent premium on the iron ore extracted by the central government PSU– National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC).
The committee has three months to provide a “judicial” outlook on how much of premium should be paid and will be headed by the mines secretary of government of India, have a representative from the Karnataka government and also a representative of the steel ministry which is the parent body of NMDC.
“In the meantime, as compensation, the centre will pay an additional royalty of 22.5% of the ore valuation over and above the 15% per cent royalty it is paying for the extraction. In total, till the time the committee presents its report, Karnataka will be paid 37.5 % in royalty for the ore extracted,” said Joshi.
As per the arrangement, NMDC can now resume its operation in the mining lease area which has roughly 143 million metric tonne (MMT) of iron deposit worth Rs 40,000 crore.
In other decisions, Joshi said the government has also decided to intervene in clearing the decks for KPCL to take ownership of the Baranja coal mines in Maharashtra for a long pending coal linkage to its thermal power plants.
“There have been allegations of coal having been stolen from the mines and we will immediately dispatch the coal controller to the spot for an investigation, settle the royalty issues with the Maharashtra government, while Karnataka will ensure there is a mine developer and operator (MDO) appointed for the purpose,” said the minister.
This apart, the centre has also assured that it will intervene in the issue of reducing the price for coal purchase from Singareni Collieries company that has put a high price tag on coal supply to the state.