70 FDI proposals in mining projects
By A Special Correspondent
The Centre will seek states' cooperation in implementing 70 proposals for foreign direct investment in the mining sector entailing an inflow of $834 million.
Union Coal and Mines Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said procedural issues holding up these projects would be dealt with in collaboration with the state governments. Though much of the powers in the mining sector had been handed over to the states, the Centre would seek to play a coordinating and facilitating role, Paswan said. The chief ministers would be asked to intervene in cases where minor obstacles came in the way of project implementation.
On mining leases, the minister said the effort was to provide a level-playing field for companies seeking to prospect for minerals such as gold and diamonds. There had been a delay of two to three years after the mining sector was opened to foreign investment five years ago. The states had initially introduced a tender system for the grant of mining licences, while the international system is for lease of areas for survey and exploration.
Many of the prospective mineral deposits were in forest areas for which environmental clearances are needed. There is conflict of interests between the forestry and mining sectors. There are even some cases pending before the courts. These are holding up development of the mineral resources
Regarding disinvestment of NALCO, Paswan said no such proposal had come before the Ministry from the Department of Disinvestment. On his opposition to the move, the minister said, "There was no question of agreeing or disagreeing as this is the government policy and in any case there is no proposal on this as yet."