Rajasthan objects to new mineral policy
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reconsider the draft of the new national mineral policy and to seek consensus of state governments before it was considered by the union cabinet.
The draft has been prepared on the basis of recommendations of the high level committee under the chairmanship of Anwarul Hoda, member of the Planning Commission. It proposes amendments to the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Law 1957.
Raje had objected to the draft earlier too, in a letter to the PM on Sep 1, 2006. Five state governments had submitted a joint memorandum to the PM on this issue on Dec 30, 2006.
The Hoda committee had recommended that in case a state government delayed its response to a prospecting or mining application, the power to respond should be transferred to the centre.
Raje said, "The state governments do not consider this in the interests of the states."
Raje also disagreed with the recommendation that the area under prospecting licences should be increased to 100 sq km from 25 sq km.
She did not approve of increasing the area under mining lease either.
The state governments feel increasing the area under a single licence would lead to a situation where large mineral bearing areas would be kept idle on purpose.
The committee had recommended that public and private sector companies be treated at par while granting mineral concessions. Raje held that "this would lead to excessive exploitation of minerals and develop commercial competition, which would prove harmful for the future".
Raje says the PM had promised to hold a meeting of all chief ministers in this regards in February 2007, but no such meeting was held.
Instead, a group of ministers at the centre had approved the draft of the new policy and it was now scheduled to be placed before the union cabinet.