The Union Steel & Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar called on the Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje at Jaipur yesterday. Issues related to development of steel and mines sector in the state were discussed during the meeting. Shri Tomar urged the Chief Minister to expedite the process of notification for auction of mine blocks. Union Minister appreciated the efforts of state government in identifying more than 30 blocks for auction of ML and PL-cum-ML, including those for limestone, manganese, potash and iron ore. In addition to these blocks, the Minister handed over detailed exploration report of 28 blocks to the chief minister. These reports are of base metals, gold and phosphorite of G2-G1 level prepared by MECL. These inputs were got prepared by Ministry of Mines at a cost of about Rs. 60 crore. Recently, Ministry has taken a decision to supply promotional exploration reports of MECL to state governments without any cost. With these additional inputs, government of Rajasthan has 38 blocks ready for auction of ML and 24 blocks for auction of PL-cum-ML. He also offered help from MSTC in conducting the auctions.
Earlier, GSI had carried out exploration of around 35 blocks in the state and shared the findings with the government. Shri Tomar proposed help from GSI, MECL and SAIL in detailed exploration of blocks so that additional mines can be identified for auctions. He emphasised the importance of constituting District Mineral Foundation (DMF) for the selected districts at the earliest. Progress on ML for iron ore in Bhilwara to SAIL and allotment of Banera iron ore mine and Jahajpur iron ore blocks to RINL was also discussed during the meeting. Raje apprised the Minister about preparedness of the state for conducting the auctions and related activities like exploration and setting up of DMF. She sought support from central government in according environment clearances to mining proposals to safeguard jobs and livelihood of mine-workers. The Chief Minister appreciated the decision of Union Mines Minister to make detailed exploration reports available to states, free of cost.
Senior officials from the Ministries of Steel & Mines and state government were present during the meeting. It is noteworthy that earlier this year, central government had amended MMDR Act thereby bringing in auction as the only process of allocation of mines resulting in transparency and revenue maximisation. The Amendment Bill introduced DMF to take care of the interests of the poor and tribal people living in and around the mines and the affected areas. The novel concept of National Mineral Exploration Trust introduced in the Bill is also taking concrete shape with the notification of rules in the coming days. In September 2014, central government had increased royalty rates after a gap of five years. This will result in around 41 % increase in cumulative royalty revenue to the states. In case of Rajasthan, the annual royalty will increase to the tune of 18 % to about Rs. 1533 crore.