Lok Sabha has passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2021. The Bill seeks to amend the Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and provide for removal of distinction between captive and merchant mines.
The Bill empowers the Central Government to issue directions regarding composition and utilization of funds maintained by the District Mineral Foundation. The Bill provides that captive mines other than atomic minerals may sell up to 50 per cent of their annual mineral production in the open market after meeting their own needs.
Speaking on the Bill, Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said that it has been brought to reform the mining sector in the country. He said, the country has large reserves of several minerals but only 45 per cent were tapped so far which have resulted in dependence on imports. Terming the Bill historic, Mr. Joshi said it will increase the production level of minerals, generate employment, increase revenues and ensure private participation in the exploration and mining activities. He added that more than 55 lakh employment will be generated in the country with the implementation of these reforms.
Minister clarified that all revenue generated from the mining activities will be utilized by the State only. However, he said, the Bill empowers the central government to specify a time period for completion of the auction process in consultation with the state government. Considering the suggestions, he proposed that Member of Parliament will be a member of the District Mineral Foundation. The Minister said, the amended bill will attract Foreign Direct Investment and technologies in the mining sector.
Participating in the discussion, Vincent H Pala of Congress termed this move a desperate attempt saying that the government is facing financial difficulty. He alleged that the Central government is infringing on the rights of the States government. Sunil Kumar Singh of BJP lauded the legislation saying it will bring reforms in the mining sector. Prof. Saugata Roy said that the Bill is an attempt to open up the mines for the big companies which will focus on profit rather than the holistic development of mining areas.
Pinaki Misra of BJD welcomed the amendments saying that the reforms were overdue from the past several years. TDP MP K Ram Mohan Naidu appealed for giving preference to PSUs like Vizag Steel in allocation of captive mines. BSP MP Ram Verma, Nama Nageswara Rao of TRS, Sunil Tatkare of NCP, CP Joshi of BJP and Sunil Pintu of JD(U) , Ritesh Pandey of BSP, Hanuman Beniwal of RSP and Bhagawant Singh Mann of AAP and others also spoke on the Bill.