Dimapur: Union minister of mines, coal and parliamentary affairs Pralhad Joshi asked the northeastern states to take local people into confidence to procure land for mining activities in the region.

“Engage local people to get land and start exploring,” Joshi said while addressing the 1st Northeast Geology and Mining Ministers Conclave at Dimapur on Monday evening.

Admitting that the Northeast region has “more problems”, he said other states too have problems but they are carrying out mining activities.

He also called for resolving the issues relating auctioning of mining blocks at the political and bureaucratic level.

He noted that the mineral-rich Northeast region has great potential in the mining sector.

Joshi urged the northeastern states to submit proposals and assured that once a proposal is received his ministry will immediately sanction Rs 5 crore against each project to every state of the region.

“We are ready to give more money but you have to work. I want results,” he said.

 “We are ready to take whatever decision needs to be taken in the interest of the northeast region,” Joshi added.

During the event, the Northeast mines and coal ministers’ committee put forward their concerns and demands before the Union minister.

Joshi said a joint working group has been constituted by the ministry of mines for different states to resolve several issues related to the process of auctioning.

Addressing the conference, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the conclave was organised to place the northeast region’s demand on mineral exploration before the Union minister.

Endorsing the Northeast mines and coal ministers’ committee’s resolutions adopted during the event, Sarma said, “The northeast has not been able to exploit the mineral wealth to the fullest as sometimes we do not have requisite technologies, sometimes due to its remoteness and sometimes due to in-house problems.”

“We have to quickly resolve these issues,” he stressed.

Sarma hoped the region will move forward further in the development sector once the political issues are resolved.

On the border issue with Nagaland, he said Assam gave its response in a “positive way”.

On Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s call to share royalty on mineral wealth in the disputed area belts between the two states, Sarma said Assam is ready to share it but the Centre has to take a call on it.

“Assam is always ready to serve the entire northeast region,” he added.

In his address, Nagaland CM Rio requested request the Union ministry of mines to consider increased funding for exploration of mineral wealth, including the untapped minor minerals, in the state.

He said though Nagaland, besides oil and natural gas, has other economically viable mineral resources like coal, limestone (cement and chemical grade), multi-metal magnetite and minor mineral resources especially sandstone distributed in all the districts, the state has been able to exploit them due to various reasons.

In the oil exploration and extraction sector, Rio said the Nagaland government has started discussions with the central and Assam governments for finalising the tripartite MoU for the sectors A, B, C, D, E and F of the disputed area belt (DAB) along Nagaland-Assam border.

He hoped that the Assam CM will favorably respond to Nagaland’s request for including all the sectors in the MoU.

Rio exuded confidence that the Union mines and coal ministry will consider the feedback from today’s conclave and factor in the issues raised for changing the central government policies and programmes, wherever required to address the issues

Mizoram geology and mining minister R Lalthanglianam who chaired the programme, was the convener of the conclave while Nagaland geology and mining minister V Kashiho Sangtam is co-convener.

Assam mines and geology minister Nandita Garlosa and senior central government and state government officials from the northeast region attended the event.

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