New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is understood to have favoured assigning world-famous Chiria mines to state-run steel giant SAIL and is believed to have suggested to the Jharkhand government to ensure the same.
Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) already enjoys the support of the Steel Ministry over ownership on the two billion tonne iron ore mines. The company has been contesting the issue after the Madhu Koda government approached the Jharkhand High Court following a decision of the Mining Tribunal to allocate the mines to it.
“In a letter to the Jharkhand government, Prime Minister is understood to have suggested that it should expedite allocation of the mines to SAIL, at the earliest to safeguard its interest,” highly-placed sources told PTI.
Singh is understood to have made it clear to the state government that the interest of the PSU cannot be compromised and in view of its capacity expansion, the entire ore from the world-famous mines will have to be earmarked for it.
“The Prime Minister has asked the state to immediately allow SAIL access to one billion tonne of iron ore and for the remaining one billion both SAIL and Madhu Koda government could strike a separate deal to allow the PSU to mine the mineral to meet its capacity expansion in Bokaro,” they said.
However, no confirmation could be obtained from the Prime Minister’s Office. “Even Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had also said that two billion tonnes be given to SAIL and the remaining, if any, be kept for the private players. He has opposed sharing of iron ore from the mines as that could be prejudicial to the long-term interest of the steel giant,” a top Steel Ministry official told PTI.