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.