Tribunals to tackle illegal mining

According to data available with the Ministry, between January 2006 and June, 2009, nearly 75,000 cases of illegal mining activity were detected across the country. Of these, 45,000 cases reported in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

As part of a comprehensive exercise to curb illegal mining and clamp down on the mafia, the proposed changes provide for Central and state tribunals as well as special courts to try cases relating to illegal mining. These legal and quasi-legal bodies will be vested with the power of revision.

The Coals and Mines Ministry will shortly start a system of alerting the states when there is sudden spurt in prices of minerals, like the skyrocketing of iron ore prices a few years ago.

Among other measures in the pipeline to contain illegal mining are using satellite imagery for which the ministry is in touch with ISRO.

“We will use remote sensing for tracking and employing technology to determine the scale and magnitude of illegal mining and locating the extent of such mining,” Nair said.
The Centre, however, seeks to minimise its role in mining. No prior approval of the Union government will required to obtain licences.

“It is proper mining and not licencing which is the issue,” Nair said.
Besides, there will also be provisions for auctioning of lucrative mines if the concerned state governments estimated that it would earn revenue.

On the other new elements that would be introduced in the 60-year old Act, Nair said the amendments would be based on the recommendations of the Hoda Committee.
“It was felt that comprehensive amendments be made to the Act.

This would make it lasting, contextual and relevant. Importantly, the draft regulations have been prepared within a sustainable development framework keeping in mind concerns over environment, wildlife, water issues and noise and air pollution,” Nair said.

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