New Delhi, March 20: On Friday, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, was passed by the Rajya Sabha amidst uproar.
Here is brief of what happened in RS
- The Bill was moved by Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
- It was passed by 117 members voting in favour and 69 against it.
- All parties supported the Bill, except Congress and the Left
- JD-U members walked out before the voting.
Highlights of the legislative measure:
- Mining licence for 50 years, as against 30 now
- No renewal of mining concessions, unlike the original act of 1957
- A new schedule to include mining of bauxite, iron ore, limestone and manganese ore - now called notified minerals
- State governments to grant mining leases and prospecting licence-cum-mining leases with the central government's approval
- The central government will prescribe the terms and conditions for selection of bidders as also the procedure for auctions.
- The central government permitted to increase the area allowed for mining, instead of granting additional leases
- The central government may reserve some mines exclusively for some specific purposes
- District Mineral Foundation to be set up in mining areas to address local area grievances
- National Mineral Exploration Trust to be set up for regional and pan-India planning
Uproar in the Upper House
The House earlier saw a lot of discussion on a motion moved by P Rajeeve of CPI(M), which sought that the measure be re-sent to the Select Committee as it had not taken the views of all stakeholders including state governments.
This amendment was voted out after a division, with parties like TMC, NCP, SP, BSP, BJD, AIADMK, DMK and JMM, besides allies Shiv Sena and SAD supporting the government. The rejection of the motion by 112 votes against and 68 in favour, paved the way for the House to take up the Bill for voting.
Concern over rehabilitation of tribals
During the short debate on Rajeeve's motion, members voiced concern over the plight of tribals living in the mining areas and issues relating to their rehabilitation. Some members also pointed out that the bill could fail the legal test and be struck down by courts as it seeks to impinge on the rights of states, which were not consulted by the Select Committee looking into the bill.
The bill further to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, as passed by Lok Sabha and as reported by the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, would now be sent back to Lok Sabha before it becomes a law. The Select Committee to which the bill was referred to by the Rajya Sabha brought in one amendment in it and passed it.
Incidently when Deputy Chairman P J Kurien put the motion to pass the bill to voice vote, he inadvertently announced "I think the Noes have it" and soon announced division of votes, to which the Left and Congress members objected. To this, Kurien said he had already called for a division which would take care of the actual numbers in favour or against the bill.
(With inputs from agencies)