The reengagement of Deepak Mohanty, a superannuated IFS officer as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) cum special secretary to the steel & mines department is ample testimony to his flair and tremendous service record. His extension for yet another year shows why performance will still trump nepotism and cronyism.
Mohanty boasts of an impeccable service record. So much so that his presence and the growth of the mining sector is intertwined! A non-nonsense officer, Mohanty has been instrumental in hastening the process of mineral block auctions in Odisha.
In his capacity as the Director of Mines cum Special Secretary, Mohanty anchored and spearheaded the online auctions. The electronic auctions drew a resounding response– they attracted an average premium of 104 per cent.
Mohanty supervised the online auctions of 24 merchant held mines of iron ore, manganese and chromite. The auctions attracted the interest of all biggies like ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), JSW Steel, Vedanta and Fomento Resources to name just a few.
Post auctions, the reopening of lapsed merchant mines were riddled with uncertainty. The Centre had extended the validity of all critical approvals- environment clearance and forestry clearance included, by three years to facilitate seamless transfer in ownership and ensure continuity in mining operations.
However, the outbreak and rampant spread of Covid pandemic queered the pitch for a smooth transition in mining. All administrative departments in Odisha save the ones dealing with essential services were under the shutdown.
Despite this barrier, Mohanty initiated the process of collecting Net Present Value (NPV) to pave the way for the singing of Mine Development Cum Production Agreements (MDPAs) and consequently lease deeds. Thanks to Mohanty’s alacrity and farsightedness, some of the auctioned mines have already commenced trial production.
Mohanty’s unsullied performance has burnished his credentials. He is held in awe and reverence in the corridors of power. He also enjoys enormous clout with top bureaucrats in the Delhi durbar.
But unlike some of his pliable colleagues in the Odisha bureaucracy, Mohanty has overcome any temptation of pulling strings to further his career interests.
Self-aggrandisement has never been his forte. He has shied away from currying favour. Mohanty is only obsessed with the holistic and sustainable development of the mining sector in the state.
If we tick back the clock, we realise how he single handedly faced the most gruelling of investigations in mining. He faced the MB Shah Commission of enquiry stoically when mining was in doldrums.
Later, when mining production slumped to historical lows in 2013-14 after the shutdown of scores of mines, Mohanty anchored the road to revival and production started booming again, catapulting Odisha to the leadership role on the Mining Map.
Judging on his immense experience, it now seems unfeasible to disengage Mohanty from mining sector reforms. Odisha has much ground to cover and his role will be pivotal.
Article Written By Dibyajit Sahu
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