Congress spokesman Pawan Khera told reporters here on Thursday that after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, all rules and laws regarding iron ore export “were thrown out the window”. “In 2014, the Steel Ministry of India removed the 64 per cent ‘Fe (iron) concentration cap’ on iron ore and along with that gave Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) the permission to export iron ore to countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan,” he said.
He asked the Centre whether it has questioned any private entity regarding their illegal dealings vis a vis iron ore export. “Why was high quality iron ore with greater than 64 per cent iron concentration allowed to be exported contrary to earlier practices? Which all private firms have exported iron ore without permission since 2014? A detailed list must be made public,” he demand.
Khera asked the Centre to reveal the action that has been initiated, if any, against the officials of the Steel Ministry who allowed illegal export to take place. “Was the change in policy of removing export duty for iron ore pellets done in consultation with all stakeholders?,” he added.
He said only Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) was allowed to export iron ore till 2014 and even they were not allowed to export ore with more than 64 per cent concentration of Fe. The export cap was to ensure sufficient supply of high quality iron ore to facilitate the growth of indigenous steel plants, he added.
Khera alleged several private firms have indulged in the export of iron ore pellets, escaping duty on these exports and earning immeasurable profits since 2014.
“It is estimated that these private firms have exported iron ore worth ₹ 40,000 crore since 2014 violating the law as they did not have the licence to export the ore. Even private firms that had captive iron ore mines, in collusion with ministry officials started exporting iron ore pellets, all this happened under the nose of the central government,” he claimed.
He said by not paying the export duty the private players have robbed the government of around ₹12,000 crore in duty fee. “Under the Foreign Trade Development and Regulation Act 1992, they are liable to pay a penalty of ₹2,00,000 crore,” he said citing government papers.