Hefty fine, jail term to curb illegal mining

Bill to empower Centre to prescribe auction norms

Aiming to curb illegal mining, the Centre is proposing to impose hefty fine and higher prison term to those who violates rules.

Illegal miners of notified minerals including iron ore, limestone, manganese and bauxite, will face jail term up to five years or a fine of maximum Rs 5 lakh or both, according to the draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill.

The draft bill which was put up in the Ministry of Mines website seeking comments from stakeholders, is proposing to amend MMDR Act 1957. The bill also makes illegal mining of notified minerals as a cognisable offence.

To empower states to tackle the illegal mining issue, the proposed bill has a provision to enable state governments to set up special courts for trial of offences under the Act, if felt necessary.

At present illegal miners faces jail term upto years and a fine of Rs 25,000. If violation continues, additional fine which may extend to Rs 50,000 can be imposed for every day during which such contravention continues after conviction for the first such contravention.

Taking into account of nagging illegal mining activities in mineral rich states like Karnataka, Odisha and Chattisgarh, the government has decided to impose hefty fine as well as higher prison term, a senior official from the Ministry of Mines told Deccan Herald.

Though the previous UPA government had introduced a bill to amend MMDR Act 1957 in Parliament, it lapsed. Now the NDA government has come up with a modified version of the existing bill, said the official.

The purpose of the bill is to make the concession regime more investor-friendly by simplifying procedures as the new bill allows transfer of reconnaissance and prospecting licences and associated data without restrictions.

Hoping to bring transparency in allocation of mineral resources, the government is seeking to amend the existing Act to introduce competitive bidding through the auction route for iron ore and other minerals.

Though mining is a state subject, the new bill seeks to empower the Centre to prescribe different terms and conditions for auctions of different types of minerals and their application to different states.

In order to earmark funds for benefit of persons affected by mining as also for the rebuilding of infrastructure in the mining affected areas, the bill proposes to set up a District Mineral Foundation in every district affected by mining.

“This will be funded by an additional levy related to royalty, the rate of which will be prescribed by the Central government,” the draft bill said.

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