In a U-turn, the Metals Mines workers Union, an associated unit of INTUC, after raising a strong protest months ago against the mining activities in Dantewada’s Bailadila iron ore-rich hills in south Chhattisgarh, seeks an intervention of the chief minister Bhupesh Baghel to commence the production of Deposit 13.

The reasons they cited is to “safeguard the main steel and sponge iron industries and augmenting the revenue generation and employment” in Chhattisgarh.

The union leaders stated that presently Chhattisgarh is producing 30 per cent of the nations’ steel/sponge iron production, 17.45 per cent coal production and 19.67 per cent iron ore.

“Presently the iron-ore are sourced from neighbouring Odisha where the production will deplete by 2020 from most of the mines. We believe that if the NMDC deposit-13 production begins it’s going to be a fillip to employment generation, revenue and industrial growth in Chhattisgarh. So, there shouldn’t be any setback”, they averred.

The union leaders asked the CM to form a committee and enter into a dialogue with the local tribals to end the stalemate, continuing since early June this year, for the production from Bailadila- deposit 13.

The state government has ordered to stay the work of developing the Bailadila iron-ore deposit which was allotted to the state-run National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in the state’s restive Dantewada district.

The mine capacity on 10 Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) witnessed protest by tribals who claimed the given deposit is the centre of their faith with deity Nandraj Dev’s divine presence in the region. The state government also formed a committee to inquire into the “illegal felling of trees at Bailadila”.

However owing to the by-poll announced for Dantewada Assembly seat, any decision by the state is likely to be taken only after September 27 when the election results will be declared.

The state-owned miner, NMDC, had appointed Adani Enterprises as Mining Developer and Operator (MDO) for the mine in December 2018, through a transparent tender procedure.

To commence mining activities at Bailadila, the central public sector unit (PSU) NMDC and the state PSU Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (CMDC) formed a joint venture in 2008.