RK Sharma, ACS, Steel & Mines
Online auction of mineral blocks in Odisha is such a rage these days. Auctions are as much the talk of the man(The Reclusive Game Changer) on the street as of corporate honchos and analysts brainstorming at ivory towers. One man is quietly spearheading a quiet revolution.
After initial glitches, RK Sharma(The Reclusive Game Changer), one of the top mandarins in Odisha bureaucracy has restarted the auctions of lapsing merchant blocks with roaring success.
The outcome of the mineral blocks is in itself a testimony to Sharma’s farsightedness and vision not only to enrich the state’s exchequer but ensure unhindered supply of iron ore to steel and other end-use industries.
The auctions of the blocks on offer have witnessed frenetic bidding. Seven of the 16 blocks have attracted premiums of over 100 percent, thus promising a two-fold surge in revenues for the state government.
JSW Steel has been the key disruptor at mine auctions, bagging four mines while ArcelorMittal that has gained a toehold into Indian steel market with the acquisition of Essar Steel in an NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) monitored corporate insolvency resolution has won the Thakurani merchant mine block, quoting a premium of 107 percent.
The entry of big boys of steelmaking has changed the paradigms of auctions and it has augured well for Odisha. Mining revenue counts since it is the single largest contributor to the state’s non-tax revenue basket.
And, in the post GST era when collections are shrinking, Odisha needs to bolster revenue from its own tax and non-tax sources.
The overwhelming premiums to the merchant mine blocks put to online auctions are expected to ensure buoyant collections for Odisha.
But all was not a smooth ride in the route to conduct of mineral auctions in Odisha.
Though Odisha pioneered the conduct of iron ore block auction, no block could be put to online tenders for nearly a year and a half over some contentious provisions pertaining to maximum leasehold area for a mining lease in Odisha.
It was owing to the pertinacious efforts of Sharma and his robust liaisons with the Union mines ministry that auctions restarted successfully again.
Sharma perpetually followed it up with the powers that be in Delhi to make sure that Odisha does not end up as a laggard in mineral auctions.
It is because of his passion and intense involvement that auctions are now happening without hassles.