Monday, November 28, 2022

Joshi stresses on exploration in NE

Staff Reporter

As part of Centre’s initiative to stop “substitutable import” of coal, Union Minister of Mines, Coal & Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi on Monday announced that the ministry would sanction Rs 5 crore as advance for each North Eastern State for exploration.
Addressing the first Northeast Geology & Mining Ministers’ Conclave at Niathu Resort, Chümoukedmia on Monday, he said the Centre was giving top priority to mineral exploration and development of North-East and for which the Ministry was ready to provide more funds once the proposals are submitted, but insisted that the States should perform well.
While urging all ministers of the region to increase exploration of minerals, he remarked that exploration would bring economic prosperity in the form of revenue augmentation, employment generation and industrial growth, all of which would lead to development of the entire Northeast.
Joshi also claimed that development in the region had picked up pace in the past eight years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and cited initiatives like Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE).
He pointed out that there were only six functional airports in the Northeast eight years ago, which had now ballooned to 15. He said allocation for the region under the Union Budget too had doubled in the past eight years. He claimed that the region was accorded top priority for development under Modi’s agenda of transforming India, adding that all Central ministries had received strict instruction from the Prime Minister to give priority to the appeals and requests made by region.
Explaining the reason for holding the Northeast Geology & Mining Ministers’ Conclave at Chümoukedmia, Joshi mentioned that when Mizoram’s Commerce & Industries (Geology & Mining), Health & Family Welfare and Higher & Technical Education minister Dr R Lalthangli-ana, Nagaland’s Geology & Mining minister V Kashiho Sangtam and others met him at National Mining Ministers’ Conference, Hyderabad and requested a special meeting to discuss specific issues of the region, he had assured them of personally coming down to the region to hold meeting with the ministers.
He further informed the gathering that Geological Survey of India (GSI) had taken up 108 projects in the region on different mineral commodities during the last five years and 23 mineral exploration projects on various commodities in current field season 2022-23.
He disclosed that the Centre was funding projects through National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET), adding that two mineral exploration projects of limestone and iron ore of Nagaland funded by NMET had already been completed.
He assured the region of continued support and said the Union Ministry through GSI and Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) could organize training programmes for State’s geologist and other functionaries for capacity building. Joshi also flagged concern regarding auctioning process in the Northeast and urged the State governments to resolve issues pertaining to this.
He reminded the participating ministers that Joint Working Group had been constituted by Union Ministry of Mines for different States to resolve issues related to the process of auctioning.
Govt considering amendment of relevant rules, says Rio: Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, chief minister Neiphiu Rio revealed that the State government was considering amendment of relevant State rules made in line with Article 371(A) to provide for a new auction regime.
And keeping in mind that exploitation of minerals and resources were a national priority and the fact that the State government had limited resources, Rio appealed for Central assistance in infrastructure development, including roads, for better extraction of minerals.
He said there were many reasons for the State being unable to exploit its resources and cited harsh terrains, remote locations, lack of sufficient connectivity, land ownership systems and other logistics factors.
“We also have been hampered by the prolonged non-settlement of the Naga political issue. These factors have affected participation by exploration and extraction agencies in the State,” he stressed.
Regarding oil exploration, he said the State government had started discussions with the Centre and Assam for finalising a tripartite MoU for the Sectors A, B, C, D, E and F of Disputed Area Belt along Nagaland-Assam border.
He noted with concern that the North-eastern States were yet to make a mark in mineral block auction regime of the country, suggesting that the issue be addressed.
Rio claimed that Nagaland had considerable mineral resources like coal, limestone (cement and chemical grade) and multi-metal magnetite, besides minor mineral resources like sandstone distributed in all districts along with oil and natural gas.
He urged the Centre to take note of the hurdles and provide assistance for capacity building of Directorate of Geology and Mining and hand hold it to enable it to fully exploit the resources.
He also requested the Union Ministry of Mines to consider increase of funding for exploration of untapped minor minerals in the State.
At the event, North-East Mines and Coal Ministers’ committee put forward their concerns and demands before the Union Minister. Accordingly, eight resolutions were presented to Joshi at the conclave (See on p-6). The minister accepted five of the proposals while the remaining three were subjected to further approval.
Also addressing the conclave, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma endorsed the resolu-tions and expressed hope that the union minister would give due consideration to every point adopted at the conclave.
Sarma also expressed hope that Nagaland government would take decision in order to pave way to utilize the resources for the benefit of the state and the country.
He said the North East was not been able to exploit the mineral wealth to the fullest due to lack of requisite technologies and also due to its remoteness and in-house problems.
Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by chairman and convener, Mizoram minister for commerce and industries, Health & Family Welfare, Higher & Technical Education, Dr R Lalthangliana, sharing a remarks by addl secretary, ministry of mines, govt of India, Sanjay Lohiya; report on discussion was presented by principal secretary commerce & Industries, Mizoram, Easter Lalruatkimi and vote of thanks was offered by minister of power, cooperation, mines & minerals, indigenous & tribal faith and culture, Assam, Nandita Gorlosa.

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