The Lok Sabha on Tuesday cleared a bill concerning auctioning of mines, even as opposition MPs staged a walkout crying foul over certain provisions, including one that said all mining leases shall be granted for a period of fifty years. This provision would also be applicable to mining leases granted before the commencement of the Act.
The government had, on February 24, introduced The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015.
MPs from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and Congress raised objection to certain clauses of amendment bill, which they described as a ‘sell out’ of country’s natural resources to corporates.
Steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the bill, once enacted, will increase transparency, end discretion, augment production and benefit the local population.
Noting that iron ore production had gradually declined to 152 million tonnes in 2013-14 from 218 million tonnes in 2009-10, he said the ordinance was the need of the hour. “The sector contributes over 2% of the GDP but it was in deep crisis. It is one of the biggest employers and its revival will give jobs to our youth,” Tomar said.
A bill brought by the UPA government also sought auction but left many windows open to favour a few, the minister claimed. “We have ceded many powers to states. We have also kept some as we cannot wash our hands off our responsibilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha also cleared the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill that sought to pave way for plying of e-rickshaws in Delhi. Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said while ensuring that the livelihood of one lakh e-rickshaw drivers is protected, the government would not compromise on the issue of safety.