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Reserve mineral areas for PSUs - Steel minister

Steel ministry has sought the intervention of a Parliamentary Committee in ensuring that the new mining Bill is revised to enable accordance of due priority to state run companies for mineral concessions.

In a recent note to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal and Steel, the ministry has strongly pitched for reserving mineral bearing areas for the central PSUs and observed that state run companies have an bigger role in the socio-economic development of the country.

A number of them have become increasingly competent, but are functioning under innumerable constraints and procedural requirements in areas of purchases, tenders, pricing, manpower, vigilance and other issues, which are not encountered by their private counterparts.

Accordingly, there is a need to incorporate a provision in the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Bill 2011 to this effect,” the steel ministry told the Parliamentary panel.

Acknowledging the concerns of the mines ministry that reservations of mineralised areas for PSUs may be mis-utilised by the private sector through backdoor entry by entering into joint ventures with the state-owned companies, the ministry pitched for inserting suitable safeguards in the Bill that no JVs by PSUs with private parties will be allowed in respect of a mineral concession allocated through the process of reservation. Such central PSUs can be allowed JVs with their counterparts in the states.

The ministry has suggested that mines can be reserved for the central PSUs under the government dispensation route for major minerals like iron ore, manganese ore and chrome ore as is being done in the case of coal.

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