Rajya Sabha to sit extra time for coal, mines bills

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New Delhi, March 15 : With the government woefully short of a majority in Rajya Sabha, the house will sit beyond 7 p.m. from Monday for passing the mines and minerals and coal mines bills cleared by the Lok Sabha.

Last week, the Rajya Sabha decided to send the bill to amend the mines act and the coal bill to a select committee of the house. The committee is to submit its reports by March 18, two days before the houses go for a recess.

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The two ordinances will lapse on April 5 and need to be replaced by the bills by then.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that consensus has been reached over the formation of a select committee.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, seeks to introduce the system of auction of mines to enhance transparency in mineral allocations.

It was passed in the Lok Sabha amid vociferous protests by members from the Trinamool Congress, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Opposition parties, notably the BJD, have been opposing it saying it infringes on the rights of the states - a stand supported by the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.

They had earlier prevented its introduction in the Rajya Sabha.

As per its provisions, there will be no renewal of any mining concession, unlike the original act of 1957.

Also, the licence would be for 50 years, as against 30 now, after which there would be no renewal but compulsory auction.

The government has already identified 199 mines for auction.

The total estimated amount of revenue, likely to be generated from 33 coal mines already auctioned by the close of the second round of e-auctions of cancelled coal blocks, is Rs 209,740 crore, Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told parliament last week.

The auctions under an ordinance follow the Supreme Court's decision in September last year to cancel the allocation of 204 coal mines allocated between 1993 and 2010.

IANS

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