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Odisha halts work at SAIL mine


Bhubaneswar : Odisha has stopped all operations at a key iron ore mine of the public sector Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) in the state as a temporary working permit granted to it three months ago has expired, an official said Tuesday.

The permit was issued to SAIL by forest officials for mining at Bolani in the ore-rich Keonjhar district for three months in November 2011. It expired Feb 11, Deputy Director (Mines) Umesh Chandra Jena told IANS.

“Since they did not obtain the necessary permission from the central authorities within the stipulated time, we asked them to halt all operations,” he said.

“Mining will be allowed only after they obtain permission from the central environment and forests department,” he added.

SAIL has a mining lease area measuring 1,321.45 hectares in Bolani near the border with Jharkhand. The mine has been operating since 1960 to supply iron ore to Durgapur Steel Plant in West Bengal.

The mine is considered as one of the largest mines of SAIL.

SAIL had to obtain various clearances from time to time to continue its operations. Somehow only forest clearance was delayed, a SAIL official told IANS.

“The state government has already recommended to the central government for permission. The file has already reached the concerned authority for approval, it is just a formality,” the official said.

“We hope to get the clearance in two-three days and re-start operation,” he added.

“We have issued instructions to the local mining officials not to allow mining if anybody does not have the required permission,” Steel and Mines Secretary Manoj Ahuja told IANS.

Odisha is India’s top iron ore producing state. It started a crackdown on illegal mining in July 2009.