No changes in Mines Ordinance: Centre
Ignoring demands from states like Odisha, the government has decided against bringing any amendments to the Mines Ordinance and plans to introduce it in the form of a Bill in the first week of March in Lok Sabha.
“There will be no change in the provisions of the Mines Ordinance. We will go ahead with it in its existing form,” a senior Mines Ministry official said.
“Seeking to introduce the Ordinance in the form of a Bill in the first week of March, we have already given a notice to the Lok Sabha secretariat,” he added.
Many states have already expressed reservations about certain provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, promulgated by the President in January, which paves the way for the introduction of the auction route for allocation of all major minerals.
In a consultation meeting between the Centre and states on the Mines Ordinance, held in January, Odisha had flagged objections on extending the validity of the existing leases, granting leases for 50 years and capping contribution towards District Mineral Foundations at one-third of the royalty.
The state’s Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallik had also strongly recommended honouring of initial pacts signed by the states for providing minerals for captive use plants citing the instance of South Korean steel major Posco.
The Mines Ordinance provides for five years extension for non-captive leases and 15 years for captive leases and extends tenure of new mineral concession form 30 years to 50 years.
It also said if Centre’s prior concurrence has already been given or state government has given a letter of intent, then captive use plants can get mines as per the existing system.
Goa had raised objection to “Clause 18 may be misused as it gives power to the central government to even interfere in policy matters of the state government which is the owner of the minerals. As such it needs to be deleted or at least under must be restricted to minerals in Part A and Part B of the First Schedule only”. Karnataka said “the power of revision by the Central Government is like an encroachment upon the state powers, thus may be done away with.”
The government is very keen to get the the Bill passed in the ensuing session of Parliament to ensure transparency in the mines allocation and bring out the true potential of the sector.
It has identified 199 mines which could be auctioned and appointed investment banking firm SBI Capital Markets to frame the rules for auction.