Existing Mineral Act is cumbersome, needs simplification: Amitabh Kant

Photo: Shutterstock
Government think-tank NITI Aayog has pitched for a new Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, saying that the existing legislation needs to be 'simplified' and contains stringent penalties, which acts as dampener for the miners.

Speaking at the National Conclave on Mines and Minerals, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said that the existing mines and mineral act was cumbersome and needed simplification.

“There should be penalties but at the same time there should be minimum interference from the government,” Vikram Singh Gaur, Joint Secretary, NITI Aayog said.

“In the year 2015, certain sections were amended but now its time for a completely new act,” Gaur said when asked about the amendments to the MMDR Act in 2015.

NITI Aayog is also of the view that certain procedures are not just cumbersome but also very stringent under the existing Act and hence need to be simplified.

The Aayog is yet to make a formal presentation to the Ministry of Mines for a fresh MMDR Act but is believed to have had informal discussions with the latter on the same.

The violations under the proposed Act would be treated in a scientific manner instead of giving discretionary powers to individual/individuals to tackle them.

In January 2015, the Union government promulgated Ordinance for amendments to the MMDR Act, making auction the sole method for mine allotment, encouraging exploration and investment and simplification of procedures besides other benefits.

The MMDR Act 2015 states that all mineral concessions that are granted by the respective State Governments would continue but grant of mineral concessions would be through auctions, thereby bringing in greater transparency and removing of discretion.

It also means greater share for the central government from the mining sector.

Unlike in the 1957 Act, there would be no renewal of any mining concession. The tenure of the mineral concession have been increased from the existing 30 years to 50 years. Thereafter, the Mining Lease would be put up for auction (and not for renewal as in the earlier system).

Stronger provisions for checking illegal mining have also been brought in under the new Act. Higher penalties and jail terms have been provided in the ordinance. Further, a provision has been made for constitution of special courts by the state governments for fast-tracking cases related to illegal mining.