Mining law gets going
The government on Friday said that a high-level panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet on July 22 to sort out the inter-ministerial differences over the proposed mining legislation.
‘‘The group of ministers on the proposed legislation will meet on July 22,’’ said Mines Secretary Santha Sheela Nair.
While the thrust of the proposed new mining is to increase the level of investments into the sector by simplifying procedures, it also seeks to make companies share a quarter of the net profit with local communities most of whom are tribal.
‘‘We have even proposed 26 per cent shareholding for those who lose their land for the sake of mining,’’ Nair added.
Protests from tribals who have been traditionally inhabiting mining areas in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, have stalled many projects including big ticket investments like ArcelorMittal, Posco and Vedanta’s steel and mining projects.
Though a debate on this issue involving the industry is yet to be initiated, the government itself admits 26 per cent may be too large an equity.
‘‘There may be some bragaining on the extent of equity participation but this is the only way to win over the tribals and the companies have to understand that they cannot have all the eggs in the same basket,’’ said a mines ministry official, not authorised to speak to the media.
The passage of the mining bill itself mirrors the slow moving process that besets almost all prospective mining projects in the country. After due deliberation by the GoM, the bill will have to be ratified by the Union cabinet and two more government panels before it heads to Parliament.
‘‘Mining is one area that perhaps requires the maximum reform, but the way the system works here, I do not expect it to reach Parliament within the next one year,’’ said a senior steel ministry official.