However, the Congress regime has virtually offered the last chance to Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to instruct the public sector mining giant to honour its commitment with the state government.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has sent a strongly-worded letter to the Steel Minister dated May 4 in which he advised him to instruct the NMDC Ltd to “act more responsibly and honour its commitment to the state”.
The government of Chhattisgarh has always played a very supportive role for the growth and smooth functioning of NMDC. In return, the NMDC has not been keeping up with its commitments given to the state on more than one occasion,” the letter read.
Baghel, who led Congress to a stunning victory and ended the BJP’s winning streak in the state in 2018, is upset with the Hyderabad-headquartered NMDC Ltd for refusing to honour its prime commitments made to the state in recent months.
NMDC Ltd presently mines 90 per cent of its iron ore from Chhattisgarh’s leftist insurgency-hit Dantewada district. If Chhattisgarh goes ahead with its planned move to scrap the lease, it would spell doom for the cash-rich NMDC Ltd as all its efforts in recent months to persuade BJP regime in Karnataka to allow it to resume iron ore excavation at Donimalai site, has already failed to yield any impact.
NMDC Ltd, operates three iron ore complexes in the country, two of these are in Dantewada while the third one at Dolimalai (Karnataka). The company is excavating iron ore at Bailadila hills at Dantewada district since late 1960s during undivided Madhya Pradesh period.
Chhattisgarh government had extended lease of NMDC’s sprawling iron ore mines in December last year after its Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) N. Baijendra Kumar gave word to the chief minister personally in Raipur that NMDC will honour its all commitments with the state government.
NMDC Ltd was committed to cough up Rs 1623 crore as part of `common clause judgement’ to Chhattisgarh for getting its mines leases extended which were due to expire in March 2020. But the company paid just Rs 600 crore but got its mines lease extended till September 11, 2035.
The 1986-batch IAS officer Kumar had also made commitment to the chief minister that NMDC Ltd would allow the Chhattisgarh Housing Board for constructing a township for company’s upcoming three million tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated steel plant at Nagarnar in Bastar district. But again the NMDC Ltd is refusing to honour its commitment for the housing project and playing a dilli-dallying tactics.
Baghel in his letter which is captioned as `Oustanding payment of Rs 1023 crore from NMDC to Chhattisgarh government’ has concluded his boldly-written letter, “I request you (Steel Minister) to issue necessary instructions to NMDC that the pending payments are made at the earliest and NMDC stands by its commitment to Chhattisgarh”.
Even, Baghel has mentioned in his letter about Karnataka government’s hostile approach towards NMDC Ltd and said Chhattisgarh government was always supportive but the Navratna company has taken its support granted.
NMDC’s executives based in Chhattisgarh claimed that the company has to change its approach towards Chhattisgarh otherwise results would be catastrophic for the company at a time when India’s economy is already going through extremely challenging phase.