Planning Commission set captive mines free for use by steel plants

on june 30, the Planning Commission's committee on mineral policy, popularly known as the Hoda committee, submitted its draft report to the prime minister's office. The committee, headed by commission's member Anwarul Hoda, recommended some amendments after reviewing the National Mineral Policy and the Mines and Minerals (development and regulation) Act, 1957.

The committee decided to allow the use of captive mines by steel plants, going back on its reported stand. "The committee thought it best to give space to both stand-alone mines as well as captive mines in the mining regime,' said Hoda. "The steel ministry and industry had lobbied hard for captive mining and their efforts have paid off,' says Sreedhar R, a geologist and head of Academy of Mountain Environics, a Dehradun-based ngo .

The mining industry says captive mines were part of inter-sectoral subsidy and it was denied its rightful share. But Moosa Raza, president of Indian Steel Alliance, says that Posco, Tatas and others would not wish to invest billions of dollars without the assured supply of iron ore through captive mines.

A contentious recommendation says "outsiders' will not be allowed to be present at mandatory public hearings for obtaining environmental clearance. "Banning participation is against the spirit of the constitution and democracy,' says Sreedhar.

Other recommendations pertain to smooth transfer of leases, powers given to the Union government to bypass states in case of delays in clearance, forest clearance by states, doing away with environment clearance for prospecting and allowing export of iron ore.