Millennium Post

Govt to amend MMDR Act to expedite exploration of coal

Kolkata: The Centre is in the process of bringing an amendment to the MMDR Act to do away with the need of the state governments' seeking prior approval for giving out mining leases, Coal Secretary Sumanta Chaudhuri said here on Wednesday.

A bill for bringing the amendment to the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act will be introduced in the next session of Parliament, he said.

"The drafting of the bill for amendment of the MMDR Act is in the process and will be introduced in the next session of Parliament," Chaudhuri said at a stakeholders' consultation organised by the coal ministry and FICCI here.

He said the allocation of coal blocks is within the domain of the Union goevrnment but the state governments do have a say.

"The role of the state governments is limited in this regard. States are required to seek prior approval from the Centre. We are now in the process of amending this", he said.

According to him, this would expedite the process of coal exploration in the country.

The government would go for forward auction in tranches during October and November this year for allotment of 46 coal blocks having a reserve potential of around 100 million tonnes.

After the amendment of the MMDR Act, exploration of these 46 blocks would come to fruition in four to five years and this will reduce the quantum of coal imports into India, the Coal Ministry's Joint secretary Ashis Upadhyaya.

"Without the amendment of the Act, exploration from these blocks would have taken seven to eight years", he added.

Chaudhuri also said that entire mining approval plan would be digitalised as well.

The basic premise of amending the Act is to revamp the system of getting clearances in the mining sector and this is one way to plug the gaps.

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