Within days of granting a mining licence to ArcelorMittal at Karampada in Jharkhand, the Mines Ministry has asked the state to expedite its response to the Centre's query over the state's recommendation to grant another such right to the steel giant in the same area.
Last week the Centre had sought certain clarifications from the state on its recommendation for granting prospecting licence to the steel major for iron ore mining over 416.93 hectares at Karampada in West Singhbhum district while granting mining licence for 662.95 hectares in the same area.
"The Mines Ministry again wrote a letter to Jharkhand on April 6 reminding it to expedite its response over some clarifications it had sought last month on one of the recommendations of the state to grant prospecting licence to ArcelorMittal for iron ore mining in the Karampada region," a senior mines ministry official said.
Jharkhand had sent two recommendations for allotment of prospecting licence to the world's largest steelmaker in West Singhbhum district on December 31, 2009.
The official said, out of the two proposals, one mining plan over 416.93 hectare falls under an area which is legally not cleared for mining.
When contacted, Jharkhand mines and industries secretary NN Sinha said the state has received the earlier query of the Centre and would respond soon.
The world's largest steelmaker had entered into a pact with Jharkhand way back in 2005 for setting up a 12-million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore but has been facing inordinate delays in land acquisition and regulatory hurdles to launch the venture.
Faced with opposition from villagers from the Khunti, Gumla areas, where the plant was proposed earlier, the steel giant is making efforts to acquire land at Petarwar in Bokaro district of the state. The entire project requires around 8,000 acres.
Amid such bottlenecks in Jharkhand, the company has also entered into a pact with Karnataka to set up a steel plant. With the threat of losing the mega investment, Jharkhand is working to expedite regulatory process for ArcelorMittal's proposed plan.
The London-based NRI billionaire LN Mittal, who heads the steel giant, had last month said the company was "anxious" to start work on its proposed greenfield projects in the country, which entail an estimated investment of Rs 1.30 lakh crore.