By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, December 17, 2020: Odisha will soon resume the long delayed auction of mines following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 14 blocks of minerals that include iron ore, manganese, limestone, dolomite and graphite up for auction, the state government is likely to reserve two blocks for the state PSUs.

The empowered committee headed by the development commissioner is expected to meet next week to finalize the schedule of auction and to take a call on blocks to be reserved for state PSUs.

The state government has targeted to complete the auction process o 14 mining blocks by January-end, officials said.

These blocks include Garamurarh, Behera-Bhanjipali, Pipalmunda, Naringpanga, Uskalvagu, Pureibahal, Chandiposhi, Jhumka Parthiriposi, Dholtapahad, Netrabandhapahad (west), Gandhalpada, Kasia, Unchabali and Kalimati.

The state government may also auction some of the blocks with pre-embedded clearances to expedite operationalisation of the blocks to address the delay in mining production due to lack of statutory forest, environmental and other clearances.

The Union mines ministry on June 3 had released guidelines for the auction of mineral blocks with pre-embedded clearances as it takes years for the successful bidders to get clearances from authorities of the state and central government to start mining operation.

The state government’s move to auction blocks with pre-embedded clearances (by obtaining all clearances) is aimed at promoting ease of doing business in the mining sector and to make the auction process competitive, officials added saying that the delay in commencement of mining operations lead to disruptions in production and dispatch causing shortage of minerals for end-user industries.

Earlier in January and February this year, the state government had successfully auctioned more than 20 mining blocks. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has derailed the whole auction process due to restrictions on travelling and holding physical meetings (pre-bid conferences), which are held before auction process.

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