In a massive jolt to public sector mining giant, Chhattisgarh government on Thursday disallowed NMDC Ltd to carry out iron ore storage, loading and shipment.
In an unfolding development, the mineral-rich state said that India”s largest iron ore miner was not following mandatory rules and despite repeated warnings it continued with illegally storing and dispatching iron ore in state”s tribal stronghold but Naxal-hit Dantewada district.
The mining department said it launched the crackdown operation at around noon, on the basis of specific inputs of massive royalty theft by the company as well as storing iron ore without obtaining mandatory licence for it.
Mining officials claimed that the Hyderabad-headquartered cash rich NMDC Ltd will have no option but to suspend iron ore production too because of loading and shipment crisis.
NMDC Ltd has several sprawling mines at Bailadila hills” Bacheli and Kirandul in Dantewada district where it excavates roughly 75 per cent of its total annual iron ore output.
Chhattisgarh government”s crackdown against NMDC has brought an existential threat to the Navratna company as it has already locked in a long drawn tussle with Karnataka government which has refused it to resume mining at Donimalai mine.
Sources in Chhattisgarh government said that NMDC faced wrath of Chhattisgarh government as it refused to honour its prime commitments made with the state government late last year while getting its mines leases extended till 2035.
“NMDC Ltd is feeling helpless to honour its commitment only because Ministry of Steel has forced it to backtrack on its promises as the state is being run by the opposition Congress”, remarked a senior official of the company posted in Chhattisgarh.
“NMDC can”t be allowed to resume operations in Chhattisgarh till it gives up its hostile attitude towards people of Chhattisgarh,” a top-ranked government official told IANS.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had also sent a strongly-worded letter to the Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan last month in which he advised him to instruct the NMDC Ltd to “act more responsibly and honour its commitment to the state”.
NMDC Ltd operates three iron ore complexes in the country, two of these are in Chhattisgarh while the third one in Karnataka. The company is excavating iron ore at Bailadila hills since late 1960s.