It’s final: New mining leases will be granted through the auction route

PANJIM: The Central government has sought to amend its existing 57-year-old Mines and Minerals Development Regulation (MMDR) Act to introduce competitive bidding through auction of iron ore and other minerals, in case of new mining leases. The step aims at improving transparency in allocation of mineral resources.“In order to both, improve transparency in allocation as well as to ensure a fair share of the value of minerals for the government, the Bill prescribes competitive bidding by auction as the method to be followed for allocation of mining leases (MLs) in respect of notified minerals,” a draft copy of the Bill posted on Mines Ministry’s website said.Centre to prescribe terms and conditions for auctioning: The Union Mines Ministry has clarified that though mining is a State subject, the new Bill seeks to empower the Centre to prescribe different ‘terms’ and ‘conditions’ for auctions of different types of minerals and their application to different States.Illegal mining a cognizable offence, special courts for trial of illegal mining cases: The draft MMDR (Amendment) Bill 2014, which is kept open for government, stakeholders and public suggestions, empower States to tackle the illegal mining issue by setting up of special courts for trial of offences under the Act and if they feel it necessary they can make the offence of illegal mining with respect to notified minerals, a cognizable offence. The violators could be punished with imprisonment up to five years and over Rs 5 lakh as fine.“The Ministry, in the proposed Bill, which is likely to be tabled during the forthcoming Parliament session, said the route has been proposed to be taken in line with recommendations of the Anwarul Hoda Committee on National Mineral Policy. The Bill, if passed in the Parliament, would amend the 1957 Act in the same name. “Bulk minerals such as iron ore, limestone, manganese, bauxite, etc, which are proposed to be notified, will account for 85 per cent or more of the value of mineral production in India,” the Mines Ministry said.As far as non-notified minerals are concerned, the Bill seeks to grant a combined Prospecting Licences (PL)-cum-ML for these minerals through a competitive bidding process. “The new Bill, it said, will also focus on attracting private investment and latest technology and eliminating delay in administration, so as to enable expeditious and optimum development of mineral resources of the country.Special Central powers to issue directions on policy matters: The Bill has inserted a new chapter with new section 17B called “special powers of the Central government to issue directions” for the conservation of mineral resources, or any policy matter in the national interest and for the scientific development and exploitation of mineral resources, and all such directions shall be complied with,” the Bill reads.Setting up district Mineral foundations: Further, in order to earmark funds for benefit of persons affected by mining as also for the rebuilding of infrastructure in the mining affected areas, the Bill proposes to set up a District Mineral Foundation in every district affected by mining. “This will be funded by an additional levy related to royalty, the rate of which will be prescribed by the Central government,” the Ministry said, thereby removing the 26 per cent profit sharing or amount equivalent to royalty.MMDR (Amendment) Bill 2014:COMPLETELY CENTRAL- Allocates new leases through auction- Empowers Centre to prescribe terms and conditions for auction of different types of minerals- Grants special powers to the Centre to issue directions on any policy matter to be complied with- Empowers State to set up fast track court for illegal mining cases- Illegal mining offence can be considered as cognizable offence- Proposes setting up of District Mineral Foundation in every district affected by mining- Maximum area limit for PLs and MLs to be increased – Focuses on attracting private investment and latest technology and eliminating delay in administration Herald Goa News

Source:: Goa News Online

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