Mines, coal bills now referred to panels

Government gives in to Opposition demand

Mines, coal bills now referred to panels

The Opposition on Wednesday won the first round of the battle over Ordinances by forcing the Modi government to refer two crucial bills related to mining sector to Parliamentary committees.

By agreeing to climb down on the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill, the Modi government might have earned some assurances from the Opposition on other crucial legislative matters.

At a meeting convened by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, the government and Opposition leaders agreed on the composition of the select committees to examine the MMDRA and the coal bills within a week.

In return, it is learnt that a broad understanding has been reached with the Opposition on the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill. The latter was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The select committee to look into the MMDRA Bill will be chaired by Bhupender Yadav of the BJP and will have 18 other members from various parties. BJP member Anil Dave would chair the 19-member panel on Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill.

Both the bills seek to replace Ordinances promulgated by the government in the inter-session period. The bills have to be passed before April 5, failing which the Ordinances will lapse.

The government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha and needs to keep the Opposition in good humour to get their support for its legislative agenda.

NDA floor managers are also in talks to bring onboard other opposition parties. It is learnt that the AIADMK and the DMK have agreed to support the government on the issue.

Efforts were on to get other parties such as the SP, BSP and the Trinamool to at least abstain from voting.

Though the government was claiming some favourable signals from the Opposition on other Ordinances, there was virtually no progress in talks on the amendments to the land acquisition law.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday night after an acrimonious debate.

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