India will soon join an elite league of countries, including Australia and Canada, where investors can apply online for mining rights - getting data on free mineral blocks at the click of a mouse.
"We have asked all mineral-bearing states to work in tandem with the Land Resource Department, Ministry of Rural Development, for faster digitisation of cadastral maps (map showing detailed record of land)," Mines Joint Secretary Ajita Bajpai Pande told PTI.
The Land Resource Department has provided over Rs 600 crore for the digitisation process while the Mines Ministry has earmarked an initial funding of Rs 21 crore for "computerised on-line register of the Mining Tenement System."
Pandey said that all mineral-rich states have been asked to replicate a pilot project carried out at iron-ore rich Bellary in Karnataka and Durg in Chattisgarh to digitise information relating to mining resources, including available blocks.
A mining tenement system provides online data of minerals, mines and other valuable information. Once implemented, the online tenement registry will enable any person to see data regarding the status of concessions online on a large scale map, enabling him to apply for vacant areas.
"Only a handful of provinces in advanced nations like Australia and Canada currently have the system, which offers all information on mineral concessions," Pande said.
The system will be implemented in Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
The system has been developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the help of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM). IBM has designed formats on reconnaissance permits (permits for exploring minerals), prospecting licences and mining leases, and circulated them to all the state governments concerned for a database.
The official said that the system would also be useful in checking illegal transportation of minerals with the help of proper records.
The magnitude of illegal mining is such that last year, about 42,000 cases were detected in 11-mineral bearing states. The Centre had also appointed a task force as part of a nationwide drive to curb illegal mining in 425 mines.
The task force comprised officials from the Indian Bureau of Mines, Geological Survey of India, Indian Space Research Organisation and the National Remote Sensing Centre.