A ministerial panel, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, today reached a consensus to give a go ahead to the draft mining bill, which seeks that miners share 26 per cent of profits with local people who get affected by their projects.
"It is largely approved. One more sitting of GoM (Group of Ministers) remains after which it will go to the Cabinet. Whatever we have suggested has by and large been approved. We will work on it," Mines Minister B K Handique told media after the meet.
"GOM approved the new mining bill," another Minister said on the condition of anonymity. Senior officials present at the meeting said the Mines Ministry would work on the final draft and place it before the GoM soon. The dates of the next meeting could not be immediately ascertained. The new bill has proposed that a fund -- District Mineral Foundation -- be created and the beneficiaries be paid out from it.
Besides, it proposes that in case of a mine being non-functional or in losses the firms should compensate the people affected by land acquisition, by paying them amount equal to the royalty given to state governments.
The royalty paid by mining companies to state governments runs into hundreds of crores of rupees. The new Bill seeks to expedite the grant of mineral concessions in a transparent manner and attracting big investments in the sector.
Handique said the ministry plans to introduce the bill in the winter session of Parliament to replace the existing Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act (MMDR Act), 1957.
The new legislation is being framed amid UPA Chief Sonia Gandhi voicing concerns over land acquisition norms and favouring the Haryana model -- where farmers are provided lucrative compensation in addition to annuity for 33 years.
In the earlier draft of MMDR Act, the provision was made for companies to either share 26 per cent equity or profits with the locals and tribals.
However, the equity sharing proviso was opposed fiercely by the industry, especially the lobby group FICCI. Besides Mukherjee, the GoM includes Home Minister P Chidambaram, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, Law Minister V Moily, Mines Minister B K Handique, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Tribal Affairs Minister K Bhuria, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
The GoM, constituted in June to examine the Bill has so far met thrice including on July 20 and July 30.