Govt brings ordinance on mines

 The government has promulgated the ordinance amending the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) (MMDR) Act, 1957, the MMDR Amendment Ordinance, 2015 to allow auction policy in grant of mining leases for both bulk minerals and notified minerals.
“The promulgation of Ordinance became necessary to address the emergent problems in the mining industry. In the last few years, the number of new Mining Leases granted in the country has fallen substantially. In addition, second and subsequent renewals have also been affected by Court judgements. As a result, the output in the mining sector has come down drastically, leading to import of minerals by users of those minerals,” the Ministry of Mines said.
Essentially, the government intended to remove discretion in grant of mineral concessions. “All mineral concessions are granted by the respective State Governments. They will continue to do so but all grants of mineral concessions would be through auctions, thereby bringing in greater transparency and removing of discretion. This should also mean that the government will get an increased share from the mining sector,” the Ministry noted. Unlike in the 1957 Act, there would be no renewal of any mining concession. The tenure of the mineral concession has been increased from the existing 30 years to 50 years. Thereafter, the mining lease would be put up for auction and not for renewal as in the earlier system. In order to bring a check on illegal mining, the penal provisions have been made further stringent. Higher penalties and jail terms have been provided in the ordinance. Further, a provision has been made for constitution of special courts by the state govt for fast-track trial of cases related to illegal mining.

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