GoM revises mining bill to include 26 pc profit-sharing

The new bill has proposed that a fund—District Mineral Foundation—be created and the beneficiaries be paid out from it. The draft bill will be placed before Parliament during the coming winter session.

It will replace the existing Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act (MMDR Act) 1957. “It is largely approved. One more sitting of GoM (group of ministers) remains after which it will go to the Cabinet. Whatever we have suggested has by and large been approved. We will work on it,” Mines Minister B  K Handique told media after the meet.
“The GoM approved the new mining bill,” another minister said on the condition of anonymity.

Headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukjherjee, the GoM proposes that in case of a mine being non-functional or in losses, the firms should compensate the people affected by land acquisition, by paying them amount equal to the royalty given to state governments. The royalty paid by mining companies to state governments runs into hundreds of crores of rupees.

Senior officials present at the meeting said the mines ministry would work on the final draft and place it soon before the GoM. The dates of the next meeting could not be immediately ascertained.

The new bill seeks to expedite the grant of mineral concessions in a transparent manner and attract big investments in the sector. In the earlier draft of MMDR Act, the provision was made for companies to either share 26 per cent equity or profits with the locals and tribals. However, the equity sharing provision was opposed fiercely by the industry, especially the lobby group FICCI. The proposed National Mineral Regulatory Authority (NMRA) will be armed with police powers to enable it to conduct inquiries on issues relating to illegal mining.

The Home Ministry had strongly pushed for the NMRA to be armed with sufficient prosecution powers so that it could proceed with legal action into specific cases instead of having to hand them over to state governments.

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

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