Mines Bill cleared

Rajya Sabha recently passed the Mines and Minerals (development and regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015.

About the Bill:

The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 replaces an ordinance which was promulgated in January.

Salient features of the Bill:

  • All mineral concessions will be granted only through auction.
  • Direct auction for mining leases for bulk minerals; auction of prospecting licences-cum-mining leases for deep-seated minerals.
  • Uniform lease period of 50 years; no renewals; auction at the end of lease period; will solve issues arising out of all SC judgments on second and subsequent renewals.
  • Transition period of minimum 15 years for captive mines and 5 years for other mines; no sudden stoppage as a result of amendment.
  • Central Government empowered to prescribe deadlines for various processes and to issue binding directions to States.
  • Central Government to frame separate rules for atomic minerals.
  • The previous approval of the Central Government will not be required for grant of mineral concession except for Atomic Minerals, Coal and Lignite.
  • Enabling powers for reservation for the public sector to continue.
  • Higher penalties and jail terms for offences; special courts may be constituted, if necessary.
  • District Mineral Foundation to take care of people and areas affected by mining.
  • National Mineral Exploration Trust to be set up for impetus to exploration.
  • Easy transferability of concessions obtained through auctions so as to attract private investment and FDI.
  • Powers to Central Government to intervene even where State Governments do not pass orders within prescribed time lines; this will eliminate delay.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

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