Indian top law officer has told the Centre that it has powers to curb illegal mining under existing laws if its wants to conserve minerals.
"The Central government is bestowed with powers to regulate mining in India in the interest of the public and in a manner that is consistent with the goals of the (Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation) Act. It cannot be a mere spectator while illegal mining continues unabated," the Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the government.
The opinion comes at a time when the Centre had refused to ban import of iron-ore to stop illegal mining in Karnataka and forest officials from Naxal affected states have claimed the Naxals were being funded from the money generated from illegal mining.
Stating that the Central government cannot be a mere spectator, the attorney general said the Central government could authorise an officer to conduct search and to make complaints directly under sections 22 and 23 (B) of the Act. He also said that mechanism for investigation and consequential action is also prescribed in the Act.
He was also of the view that the Parliament, in order to regulate and develop mining systematically and in public interest, has armed the Central government with the authority to control mining activity and thereby preventing it.
He has also not agreed with the Mining ministry's view that it cannot curb illegal mining activities - worth several thousand crore of rupees - because it occurs outside mining areas saying conservation of India's mineral wealth is the prime responsibility of the Centre.