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Modi Govt likely to prepare a new industry-friendly Mining law #WTFnews

Govt may bury UPA’s mining law draft

Mineral output has been shrinking significantly in recent years due to judicial oversight of mining in key states such as Karnataka, Goa and Odisha.
Mineral output has been shrinking significantly in recent years due to judicial oversight of mining in key states such as Karnataka, Goa and Odisha.
NEW DELHI: The government could go back to the drawing board to prepare a new industry-friendly law for the mining sector, in the process effectively junking a legislation drafted by the UPA government in 2011 whose provisions were unpopular with miners and, fortuitously for them, had lapsed with the previous Lok Sabha.

The UPA government’s Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill of 2011, which aimed to set aside an outdated 1957 legislation that presently governs the sector, makes it mandatory for miners to share their profits.

Mineral output has been shrinking significantly in recent years due to judicial oversight of mining in key states such as Karnataka, Goa and Odisha.

That and a policy paralysis at the Centre had the mining industry worried about the UPA-drafted law’s contentious proposals that prescribed miners sharing 26% of their net profits with local communities affected by their mining operations.

While the Union government has decided to push forward some pending and lapsed bills from the previous Lok Sabha, it is looking at mining laws afresh, said officials.

This is in sync with the prime minister’s directive to all departments to review or repeal archaic laws that have outlived their utility.

“The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill of 2011 had many issues but it has lapsed. The government is now taking a view on whether the law should be comprehensively amended or a new Bill be brought altogether,” said Arun Kumar, joint secretary in the mines ministry.

A decision on the mining law’s fate is expected from the Minister of Steel, Mines and Labour, Narendra Singh Tomar, who is holding meetings with industry leaders this week. India’s mining output has consistently contracted for four years running.

In the last financial year, it fell 1.4%.

The problems afflicting the mining sector has had knockon effects on a range of other industry sectors too and the wider economy. Industries were forced to import raw materials even when they were plentifully available in the country. Industry officials who didn’t want to be identified welcomed the early thinking in the government to frame a new law. The 1957 law, they said, had little relevance in today’s context and needed to go.

“The government should consider declaring mining as a strategic sector as it is critical for manufacturing growth, job creation and saving valuable foreign exchange spent on importing raw materials. Moreover, it can propel growth in some of the most backward states,” said one mining industry official requesting anonymity.

The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act of 1957 was last amended in 1999 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, which changed the law’s name to stress the primacy of development over regulation.

Applicable to all minerals except mineral oil, the law originally reserved all major minerals like coal, lignite and iron ore for the public sector and allowed a limited role for private players in minor minerals. It was framed on the basis of the principles enshrined in the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956, which was significantly overhauled in 1991 when India opened up its markets.

In the 1970s, the law was amended twice, but only to enlarge the government’s control over mining operations and expanded the list of minerals reserved for the public sector.

The UPA had enunciated a National Mineral Policy in 2008, but the MMDR law’s amendments to back the policy could not be passed.

The amendments it had proposed included miners having to share 26% profit with local communities, setting up of courts to fasttrack illegal mining cases, a national mining regulator for major minerals and a central and state level cess on mining output.

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#India – Tata, Birla, SAIL among 70 companies violating green norms, says Shah panel

Large-scale violation of environment and forest laws have taken place in Odisa since 1994-95

BS, New Delhi 

 Last Updated at 00:24 IST
Top companies — such as SAILTata Steel, the Aditya Birlagroup’s Essel Mining and Odisha Mining Corp — are among the 70 that have violated environment and forest laws, the M B Shah Commission on illegal mining in Odisha has held.

Large-scale violation of environment and forest laws have taken place in Odisha since 1994-95 and most of the mining lease holders violated these in some form or other, it said.

The Commission has estimated iron ore worth Rs 45,453 crore and manganese worth Rs 3,089 crore have been extracted by miners “illegally and without lawful authority” by violating conditions of Environment Clearance (EC) alone.

It added the value of illegal production would increase considerably if other factors, including consent to operate, production without mining plan/scheme, were considered.

Of the 192 mining leases of iron and manganese ores in the state, 94 do not have an EC. Of the 94 mines that do not have an EC, 78 extracted iron and manganese ores between 1994-95 and 2011-12, worth thousands of crores.

Moreover, 96 leases obtained delayed EC approval but carried out mining during the period.

“Totally 130 lessees are/were noted of doing production without lawful authority of iron and manganese ores (which includes 109 leases running under deemed extension also) in violation of Environment Impact Assessment notification, 1994 and 2006,” it said.

The Commission added: “All such production is to be considered as illegal and without lawful authority. The market value for iron and manganese ores is required to be recovered under the provisions of Section 21(5) of the MM(DR) Act, 1957.”
SAIL’s Bolani and Barsua iron ore mines; Tata Steel’s 7 mines — Joda East, Joda West, Manmora, Guruda-Tiring Pahar, Malda, Khandbandh and Bamebari; Jindal Steel and Power’s TRB mines and Adhunik Metaliks’ Kulum mine are among the list of 96 firms that obtained delayed EC while carried out production.
Essel Mining and Industries’ Unchabali mine is among the list of 94 mines which did not have EC but carried out iron ore extraction. Its 3 other mines — Kasia, Jilling-Longalota and Koira are in the list of obtaining delayed EC approval.
The Odisha government-owned Odisha Mining Corporation’s (OMC) 8 mines are also in the list of 94 mines, which did not have EC approval. Of this, 2 mines — Sakradihi and Balda- Palsa-Jajang carried out extraction without EC.
Moreover, OMC obtained delayed EC approval for 14 of its mines and most of them carried out mining during the period.
Orissa Mineral Development Corporation (now part of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam), Rungta Mines Group, BPMEL, Kalinga Mining Corporation, Sarda Mines, Tarini Minerals, B D Patnaik, Aryan Mining and Trading Corporation Pvt Ltd are also on the list of violating or not taking approvals.

Other big miners in the state that are on the list for violating norms include Indrani Patnaik, Serajuddin & Co, R P Sao, Patnaik Minerals and S N Mohanty.
An Essel Mining spokesperson said: “The issues raised by the Shah Commission are subjudice and therefore, it is inappropriate to comment at this stage.”
Comments from other companies could not be obtained.
The Commission has also flagged Environment Ministry and Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), a multi-disciplinary body under the Mines Ministry, for giving approvals without any checks, and failing to protect environment and conserving the ores.
“The permission granted so far for the extraction of 154.263 million tonnes by IBM and MoEF, if taken into consideration and achieved, then the reserve would last only for 30 years in the state for good quality ore,” it said.
Talking about violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, the Commission said that out of 192 mining leases, 176 are in dense forest.
Ministry of Environment and Forest has not given approval to 98 leases for diversion of forest area and 47 mines, out of 98, are/were operating without forest clearance (FC), it said.
The Commission has recommended recovering market price from the mines, which are/were operating without obtaining FC.
“There is gross misuse of deemed refusal and deemed extension of both the provision of renewal of leases. This casual and negative approach has caused dearly to State exchequer in the form of hundreds of crores of stamp duty and others,” it said.
In all, 147 cases, renewal applications have not been decided. Of this, in 86 cases, the delays have been between 5- 20 years, it said, adding that “the sufferer is the government and such long delay breads corruption at all level”.
Talking about casual attitude of MoEF officials, it said that in 16 leases, where the forest area was involved, EC was granted without forest clearance.
Moreover, in 56 mining leases, EC was granted without stipulating any condition for wildlife.
Of 98 leases, 31 are adjacent to the elephant corridor in Sundergadh and Keonjhar districts and due to mining, there has been “vast destruction of standing corps, huts and human habitat by elephants”, the Commission said.
Criticising IBM, it said that the government agency modified mining plan twice or more for 41 leases and gave approval to 53 leases for modification with retrospective effect.

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