Long lease for miners in R'than

Overall lease period is 90 years in new policy

In order to encourage big corporate players in mining activities, the Rajasthan government launched a new mineral policy which has the provision of allotting mines on 50 years of initial lease and two subsequent extensions of 20 years, which will take the overall lease period to 90 years.

Under the policy, several rules have been amended which will promote mining activity on forest land. Social organisations and activists have strongly opposed the two provisions in the new policy.

“Earlier initial lease period was 20 years along with two extensions of 10 years each. Now the same has been increased to 50 years of initial lease and two extensions of 20 years. With such a long lease time, monitoring mining activities in the state will become more difficult. Miners will become powerful and any interference by the government will be easily challenged in court of law,” said Rana Sengupta, managing trustee at the Mine Labour Protection Campaign Trust.

Activists have alleged that increase in lease period has been done to engage big private players and companies into mining activities in Rajasthan. Ninety years of lease period is a long time and only big players can earn profits in a strategic manner while small miners will be eliminated.

According to the new mineral policy, mining in forest land will now become easier in Rajasthan. Mining lease in forest land will be granted to applicants who obtain diversion of forest land from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest while the state department will obtain diversion of forest land in cluster.

Till now diversion of land from forest area for mining purpose was done for five years but it can be extended for several years now. Again, the new initiative has been taken to invite big corporate players in mining activities.

In order to act as a strong deterrent against illegal mining, the provisions of imprisonment and financial penalty have been increased to five years and Rs 5 lakh. According to activists, illegal mining would not end unless the government announces a separate mining policy. “The government always announces a mineral policy which is focused on exploration of minerals. There is a dire need to announce a mining policy which should take into account other aspects like impact of mining on environment, laborers, social security schemes and illegal mining,” said Sengupta.

Out of a total 34 major minerals available in Rajasthan, 31 major minerals have been converted to minor minerals. After the conversion, the royalty received from the mines of these 31 minerals will straightaway go to the state government. Only the three major minerals in the state are now left with the central government.

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