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Sunday, June 22, 2014
Centre studying SC order on Goa mines
Govt wants to push lapsed Mining Bill in Budget session
NEW DELHI: June 21, 2014: The lapsed mining bill that the Modi government wants to push in the Budget session may dilute the provision for issuing mining leases only through competitive bidding even as ministry officials are studying the Supreme Court judgment allowing resumption of iron ore mining in Goa, so as to incorporate some of its contentions in the Bill.
Officials also favoured a cap on excavation as ordered in case of the Goa mines, limiting it to 20 million tonnes a year to ensure all the minerals are not exhausted.
The mining industry is already active in the corridors of the ministry to plead for removing the clause that forces it to share its profit margin with the affected people.
Contrary to BJP's poll manifesto promising allotment of the natural resources like coal, iron ore, minerals and spectrum only through auction, Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has sought fresh opinion of all stakeholders for adoption of any other methods.
He has asked officials to prepare a Cabinet note in this regard after they told him that leasing of the mines through auction is not practised globally since neither the government nor the bidders can have the idea of the exact quantity of minerals that can be explored and hence impractical to work out the auction price.
The issue came up as a result of the Prime Minister's Office asking all ministries to examine the Bills of the previous UPA Government that are pending or that have lapsed with the dissolution of the previous Lok Sabha and recommend those that should be brought up in Parliament with changes, if necessary.
Tomar intends to re-introduce the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill that has lapsed. The UPA government had put the Bill that was introduced in 2011 on the backburner because it did not get a clear-cut opinion of the Law Ministry on the auction clause despite reference to it not once but thrice.
The UPA government's indecisiveness on getting the Bill passed came from a Supreme Court judgment in February 2012, cancelling all 122 telecom spectrum licences granted to 11 companies on the basis of "first come, first serve."
Since the BJP, which was then in the opposition, made hue and cry over the spectrum and coal block allocations after the adverse CAG reports and kept insisting that they should have been auctioned, it may be difficult for Tomar to tweak the clause that stipulates allocation of the mines to private parties only through the competitive bidding.
Some other provisions of the 2011 Bill may also be tweaked before its re-introduction in Parliament are a provision for 26 per cent share in mining profits to the tribals and the project affected people in case of the coal and lignite mines and amount equivalent to the royalty paid to the State government to them in case of other minerals.