New Delhi: Dissatisfied with the Hoda Committee report on iron ore, the steel industry asked the government on 19 April to set up a new panel for framing a comprehensive mineral policy so as to attract investors.
“None of the promised investment of nearly Rs 2,00,000 crore would fructify if the government accepted the Hoda Committee’s recommendations in toto. We demand that a new committee be set up to delve into all the issues pertaining to iron ore and come out with a comprehensive national mineral policy,” an Indian Steel Alliance (ISA) official said.
He said the steel industry was not widely represented in the meetings of the Hoda Committee despite several requests. Only Tata Steel chief B Muthuraman represented steel utilities on behalf of Confederation of Indian Industry.
“However, Muthuraman has already submitted a dissent note on the Committee’s recommendations,” the official said.
He said the panel’s suggestion that priority be accorded in granting captive mines to steel capacities in existence till July last year within resource bearing states was flawed as it would spell disaster to those port-based utilities like Essar, Ispat and RINL who do not have access to iron ore.
The official said steel utilities under the banner of Assocham have appointed accredited consultants to suggest a mineral policy to overcome loopholes and minimise litigations.
“The utilities have joined hands and have solicited the expertise of KPMG to suggest a basic policy framework, besides enlisting the services of a reputed legal firm for framing a comprehensive policy on iron ore,” he said.
The utilities have also solicited expertise of National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) for suggesting a strategy for conservation and value-addition of minerals, the official said.
“Moreover, they have also requested former CII chief economist Omkar Goswami to study the socio-economic impact of mineral resources,” he said.
He argued the Hoda Committee had pointed out that iron ore exports would be around 100 MT by 2019-20 but this level is about to be achieved in the current fiscal.
“Recently, NCAER has submitted a report that high and medium grades of iron ore reserves would be exhausted within the next 19 years,” he pointed out.
Similarly, the panel’s suggestion on fixing ad valorem duty on iron ore on Western Australian model was unacceptable to steel utilities as the proposed rate was too low.
“The Hoda Committee has been unable to address the interest of steel industry. The need of the hour is to conserve iron ore to protect the future of steel utilities. So, there is an express need for setting up a new panel to delve into the entire gamut of issues pertaining to iron ore and come out with a mineral policy for the benefit of one and all,” the official said.