A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday agreed to give the go-ahead to a draft mining bill, which makes it mandatory for miners to share 26 per cent of profits with local people affected by their projects.
“It is largely approved. There is one more meeting of the GoM that remains after which it will go to Cabinet,” mines minister B.K. Handique said.
Industry had opposed the profit-sharing clause, saying it would hamper investment. But two days ago, Handique had said there would be no rethinking the clause or diluting the profit-sharing percentage.
With eight cabinet ministers part of the GoM, Cabinet approval for the Mines and Minerals Bill looks like mere formality. Thereafter, the mines ministry plans to introduce the Bill in the winter session of Parliament.
“Once introduced in Parliament, it will be referred to a standing committee,” Handique said. “So we have to wait for deliberations from the standing committee. After that, it will be debated in the House and then become law.”
The new Bill proposes that a fund be created and beneficiaries be paid from it. It also says that in case a mine is non-functional or making losses, the firm should compensate the people whose land was acquired by paying them an amount equal to the royalty given to state governments. Furthermore, the GoM reportedly agreed to levy a cess on mining projects to provide basic facilities like schools and dispensaries to the project-affected. Under the draft law, no mining project can be started in tribal areas without the consent of tribal communities to be affected by it.