The National Mining Policy being formulated to overrule an outdated mining law of 1957 would extend to unorganised mines that are viable, Union Minister for Mines Bijay Krishna Handique said on Wednesday.
Efforts are on to update the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957.
Various mines in the unorganised sector - coal and limestone in Meghalaya and mica in Central India for instance - are worth over Rs 1,200 crore annually but are unregulated and do not confirm to health and environmental standards.
Handique said the new policy is likely to be tabled during the winter session of the Parliament. “We shall definitely be looking to bring unorganised mines under its ambit if they are viable.”
Handique, also the Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), admitted the ministry lost pace and direction in the past five years. “DoNER started well as a department under Arun Shourie, but was not up to the mark after it was elevated to a ministry in 2004,” he said here on Wednesday.
Handique said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave him a 100-day deadline to get the ministry back on rails with its annual budget of Rs 500 crore.
“The money has been distributed proportionally among the eight northeastern states, and I am sure it will bear fruit within the stipulated timeframe,” he added.