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Wednesday, December 31, 2003
 
 
 
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Orissa Allows Mining Projects In Tribal Areas
Posted online: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at 0000 hours IST
BHUBANESWAR, DEC 30:  The Orissa government has cleared the path for the location of private sector projects in scheduled areas of the state. The state government has formulated a policy for grant of mining lease and transfer of land in Schedule Areas for commercial projects.

There was confusion over the grant of mining leases and transfer of lands in the scheduled areas following the Supreme Courtís verdict in the Samata Vs Andhra Pradesh case. However, the state has made an attempt through the policy to strike a balance between development needs and the interest of the tribals.

Announcing the government policy for grant of mining lease and transfer of land for commercial projects in scheduled areas, chief secretary PK Mohanty said there should be a sensitive rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy to take care of affected tribals. Besides, the company setting up projects in the scheduled area should make adequate provision for employment of local tribals.

The companies should agree to earmark five per cent preferential equity shares of the proposed project for the displaced persons. The allotments of the shares must be in tradable lots. Five per cent of the annual profit should also be spent by the company on peripheral development within 50 km radius of the project. The spending would be monitored by a trust represented by the district collector and the revenue divisional commissioner.

The government policy is likely to bring in great relief to private companies like Utkal Alumina International Ltd, Aditya Aluminium and Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. Utkal Aluma, a consortium led by Indal, is facing trouble in locating the refinery plant in Kasipur of Rayagada district because of the project site and the mines falls in the scheduled areas.

Similar is the case with the Aditya Aluminium and Sterlite Industries. Since the bauxite reserves in the state are located in the scheduled areas, the government also found it difficult to transfer the land and grant the mining lease because of the stringent provisions in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

Moreover, the Supreme Courtís verdict on the Samata Vs AP government made it more difficult the development activities in the scheduled areas.

However, the state government took a decision on development in scheduled areas of the state. A committee headed by chief secretary submitted a report outlining the policy which was approved by a cabinet sub-committee constituted for the purpose. Finally, the policy was received the cabinet approval on Monday.