Orissa takes steps to normalise movement of minerals


Bhubaneswar : The Orissa government has initiated steps to normalise the movement of minerals from mines in the state’s Keonjhar district, officials said Monday.

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“There was a meeting between railway and state government officials recently and certain measures are mutually agreed upon,” Guru Ray, special secretary in the state government, told IANS.

“I am hopeful things would get sorted out quickly,” he said.

The supply of different minerals, including iron ore and manganese, to plants in the state and outside has been affected after authorities last month closed at least three railway sidings and prohibited loading and unloading of minerals in the district.

They also clamped prohibitory orders in the sidings following allegations that these were being used to transport minerals illegally.

A steel and mines department official said: “The district authorities have been told to take steps to lift the prohibitory orders”.

“They have been asked to review the situation and take steps accordingly. If every thing goes fine the prohibitory order may be lifted in a week or fortnight’s time,” he said.

Investigations into illegal mining in Orissa by various state and central agencies started after it was alleged in July last year that some mines were being operated without licences.

Operations at more than 100 mines in the state – over half of them in Keonjhar – have been halted since then as officials found them working without statutory clearances.

As a result, supply of ore to about 100 sponge iron ore units in the state has been disrupted. The Orissa Sponge Iron Manufacturers’ Association earlier this month said most of the plants were operating with 50-60 per cent capacity for more than a month.

The disruption in supply has also affected units in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.