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Mamata shadow on the Bill

delhi Updated: Oct 01, 2011 00:26 IST
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The mining and mineral development regulatory bill (MMDR) passed on Friday by the Union cabinet could be amended to accommodate suggestions, if any, from West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The decision was taken in response to railways minister and Trinamool Congress representative Dinesh Trivedi's suggestion that his leader be brought into the picture as the Bill mentioned West Bengal by name, to count it out of the royalty mechanism it proposes for states with regard to coal and iron ore.

The exception made in the case of West Bengal is largely on account of the 40% cess the state government imposes on the two commodities which are found in abundance in the state.

Initially, Trivedi's intervention invited a sharp reaction from finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who reportedly had fielded queries on the proposed legislation from potential investors during his recent visit to the United States. But, the matter got resolved quickly.

The Bill was cleared on the understanding that mines minister Dinsha Patel will speak to Mamata and revert to the Cabinet over the fortnight if there was a need to alter the Bill. As argued by Trivedi, the approach will bring a major ally on board and obviate discordant notes within the UPA when the legislation is introduced in Parliament's winter session.

A source privy to the Cabinet's deliberations told HT that Trivedi's view prevailed essentially because the Bill has implications for all states, not just West Bengal. "The decision was in deference to the federal polity and to show respect for allies in a coalition situation," he said.