A Bill to amend the Mines and Minerals Act to introduce the system of auction in granting mining concessions was tabled in the Lok Sabha today, amid opposition by the Biju Janata Dal.
The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 seeks to replace and ordinance promulgated last month.
As soon as Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar rose to table the bill, BJD members opposed its provisions saying they infringed on the rights of the states.
B Mahtab (BJD) said while states were consulted, government inserted new sections in the ordinance which infringed upon the rigths of the states.
His stand was supported by Jyotiraditya Scindia (Cong) and Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress.
But Tomar rejected the contention of the opposition saying officials from states were consulted in meetings. He also said the mining sector was stagnant and the bill will help bring transparency and boost production.
Government had defended promulgation of the ordinance saying it was important to address the emergent problems in the mining industry. In the last few years, the number of new mining leases granted in the country have fallen substantially, it had said.
The bill, which will replace the ordinance, says that essentially the government intended to remove discretion in grant of mineral concessions.
All mineral concessions are granted by the respective state governments. They will continue to do so but all grant of mineral concessions would be through auctions, thereby bringing in greater transparency and removing of discretion.
Unlike the original 1957 Act, there would be no renewal of any mining concession. The tenure of the mineral concession have been increased from the existing 30 years to 50 years. Thereafter, the mining lease would be put up for auction and not for renewal as in the earlier system.
There is provision to establish District Mineral Foundation (DMF) in the districts where mining takes place. This, according to the bill, is designed to address the long time grievances of the people affected by mining.
There is seprate provision for contribution to the DMF not exceeding 1/3rd of the royalty rate in the respective minerals.