Fresh mining leases could be issued tentatively within six months, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court cancelled all 88 mining leases in the state citing irregularities in the lease renewal process.
He, however, refused to confirm whether the state government would follow the auction route to lease out the state’s mining tracts.
Parrikar also said as per the court order, while mining in iron ore has been banned from March 15, there was nothing to stop mining companies from exporting already mined ore, which is stacked on transportation jetties and other plots outside the lease areas.
“Six months should be the target — from March… That is tentative, subject to no hurdles and problems in between.
“I have told you that state is examining all options,” Parrikar, whose resignation is being demanded by the Opposition for mismanagement and alleged corruption in renewal of leases to tainted mining companies, told journalists at the State Secretariat.
“They have been permitted to extract up to March 15. So obviously that ore will belong to them, subject to condition that they pay all the royalty and state mineral fund. They can export without extracting also.
“That means if there is material available with them on March 15 on the jetties or some other plots… that can be exported. There is no ban on export. There is no mining ban, no export ban.
“Mining has to be conducted by giving the lease through a process,” Parrikar said, adding that only the automatic renewal of mining leases has been set aside by the apex court.
He also said that the state would not face a financial setback due to the order.
“The damage is temporary. There is not much of a loss to government… But as far as financial impact to the state goes — Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore — we can bear it.
“Next year my income from mining will be Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore. There are various methods. There is material still available in balance from e-auctions. I can auction that,” Parrikar said.
Asked whether the mining leases would be auctioned, he said: “Consequent to the order, the state will explore all possibilities including auction, to maximise the revenue of the state.
“I am not ruling out auction, but I am also not confirming it. There are multiple options which I do not want to discuss at this stage.”