Apex court questions Orissa on mining licence to POSCO

Monday, December 6, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Monday issued notices to the central and the Orissa governments on a petition challenging the Orissa High Court order that set aside the state government’s grant of ore mining licence to South Korean steel major POSCO.

The Posco was granted mining licence in the Khandadhar area of Orissa’s Sundergarh district.

The high court set aside the 1962 state government notification that reserved the land for extracting mineral resources by public sector undertakings only.

While not staying the high court order, the apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik directed maintenance of status quo.

The court directions came after senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the state government, drew the court’s attention to the July 14 verdict of the high court. Senior counsel R. Ramachandran appeared for another litigant Geomin Minerals and Marketing Limited, which failed to bag the mining licence.

The state asked the apex court to restrain the high court order. It said the high court order could jeopardise Poscos plans to set up a steel plant in the state.

Geomin Minerals and Marketing moved the high court challenging the grant of prospective mining lease licence to Posco in 2009.

It contended before the high court that though it had applied for the licence in 1991 and Posco had applied much later, the South Korean firm walked away with the licence.

The high court in its verdict held that Geomin Minerals and Marketing should have got a preference in the grant of licence since it had applied in 1991.

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