New Mines bill may lapse, not to be tabled in LS this session

Tags: Mines Bill, News
The mines bill, which proposes sharing of miners' profits with the project-affected people, is all set to lapse as it is not among the 39 bills listed to be tabled in the Lok Sabha in this session.

The present session, which saw a stormy start today, is the second part of the Winter Session and is also the last one of the 15th Lok Sabha before general elections in May.

"We are not in a position to table it in the current session because there is no certainty that the listed 39 bills would get taken up," Mines Minister Dinsha Patel said.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal and Steel had made as many as 107 suggestions and if all of them are accepted, the shape of new mines bill will completely change, he added.

"Entire Bill will get changed, such is the situation as the (Standing) Committee has given 107 suggestions. Of them, there are 25 suggestions, which we can accept," Patel said, adding that "the Committee took 15 months to deliberate on the proposals. We had tabled it in the Lok Sabha".

He was speaking to reporters after inaugurating a meeting of the Central Geological Programming Board today.

Mines Secretary R H Khwaja, on the matter, said: "We have sent a draft note to the legislative, let's see when it comes back (to us). Whether we will table it in the current session or not, I think you know the answers."

The Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011, was tabled in the Lok Sabha in December, 2011 and seeks to replace a more than half-a-century-old law under the same name. The Parliamentary panel had given its recommendations in May, 2013 on the Bill.

As per the provisions of the new bill, coal and lignite miners would have to share 26 per cent of the profits from their mines with people impacted by projects. The Standing Committee, however, had recommended to remove the provision and replace it with a royalty payments based system.

For non-coal and non-lignite miners, the bill has proposed payment of an amount equivalent to royalty paid by the firms to the state government. This recommendation was accepted by the Parliamentary panel.

The collected money was proposed to be used for welfare of the project-affected persons through a newly created District Mineral Foundation (DMF). The panel had recommended to bring DMF under the CAG audit purview and increasing local community's representation in the DMF council.

Government's failure to convert the bill into a law would bring cheer to the Indian mining industry, which has been opposed to various provisions of the bill, including the profit sharing clause. The industry has been saying that the proposed law would increase the tax outgo by up to 100 per cent.

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