Solan, March 16
The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) has surrendered its much-awaited limestone project at Arki as the process to surrender the mining lease has begun.
The project was granted to the NMDC in August 1991. It was supposed to provide limestone to the steel units though no industrial project was supposed to be set up. The locals who were hopeful of gaining employment have been left high and dry with the closure of this project.
Issue posed as query in Vidhan Sabha
- The state government stated this in a Vidhan Sabha reply to a query posed by Arki MLA Sanjay Awasthy.
- As per a decision taken at the 537th meeting of the NMDC,
- it was decided to close the limestone project at Arki and surrender the mining lease to the state government.
- The state government was apprised of the decision by the NMDC in August 2021.
The state government stated this in a Vidhan Sabha reply to a query posed by Arki MLA Sanjay Awasthy.
As per a decision taken at the 537th meeting of the NMDC, it was decided to close the limestone project at Arki and surrender the mining lease to the state government. The formalities of this process were underway. The state government was apprised by the general manager of NMDC in August 2021 about this decision taken to close the project in its meeting held in June 2021.
No limestone extraction had taken place at the site at Sherpur ever since it was leased out to the NMDC. Though the NMDC and the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) had also signed a joint venture in 2013 to invest Rs 260 crore in developing the Arki limestone reserves, it made little headway.
This joint venture was aimed at starting production from the 100-million tonnes reserves in the next three years. It was signed during the tenure of the Virbhadra Singh as the Union Steel Minister in 2013.
Arki reserves are rich in steel-grade limestone used in steel making. The iron ore fines were also supposed to be sold to the adjoining cement manufactures like Ambuja Cement and Ultratech Cements. Besides limestone, the Arki reserves also contain about eight million tonnes of dolomite, consumed by various industries like glass and fertiliser.
Officials recently verified the mine closure plan of the site submitted by the NMDC where no activity had been undertaken after the grant of the lease. Following its verification, the closure plan would be approved.
Being a far-flung area, the lack of proper access to road and poor infrastructure acted as a deterrent to the NMDC to undertake limestone extraction from the site, informed officials in the Industries Department.