Centre favours police powers for mining panel

Centre favours police powers for mining panel

Centre favours police powers for mining panel

Government sources said the Home Ministry was strongly pushing for the NMRA to be armed with sufficient procecution powers so that it could proceed with legal action into specific cases instead of having to hand them over to state governments.

Union Mines Ministry officials told Deccan Herald that feet dragging by state governments has forced the Centre to propose giving more legal teeth to the NMRA which will be part of the draft Mines and Mineraals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2010. The bill is now in the process of being vetted by a group of ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

In a recent meeting of the GoM, Home Minister P Chidambaram is said to have strongly argued for more power to the authority to enable it to intervene in illegal mining and transporting of ore without valid permit.

The proposed body will oversee mining-related activities, including management of mineral wealth, curbing illegal mining and proper auctioning of ore.

“The NMRA will be given powers to investigate and initiate prosecution against any person or a company found involved in illegal mining on the basis of written complaints for offences under the Act,” a Mines Ministry official said. The authority will deal with only major minerals-related mining operations. In the case of minor minerals, the authority will forward the complaints to the state government and direct it to act and submit reports. 

The Home Ministry’s rationale for empowering the NMRA is based on the belief that mining companies’ tentacles run deep and they often have inter-state networks involving very influential people.

The proposed authority will have one chairperson, who should have served as a secretary or an additional secretary to the Central or any state government for at least three years, and nine members.

For the record, the Indian Bureau of Mines, the current regulatory body of the Ministry of Mines, recently detected 62 cases of illegal mining in Karnataka and recommended the State Government to act. However, the Centre expressed its displeasure over the failure of the Karnataka Government to initiate action in these cases.
DH News Service

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