Lok Sabha passes bill to amend MMDR Act

·3-min read

New Delhi, Mar 19 (PTI) Seeking to bring more reforms in the mining sector, Lok Sabha on Friday passed a bill to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and Union minister Pralhad Joshi asserted that even if the Centre auctions a mine, all the revenue will go to states concerned.

The Mines Minister said the proposed changes in the MMDR Act will help create employment opportunities and also allow participation of private sector players in mining activities with enhanced technology.

The Lok Sabha passed the Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which was introduced in the House earlier this week.

'The entire revenues will go to state governments even if the central government auctions the mines... all revenues will go to states alone... (we are) only making good, transparent policy,' he said.

According to him, India produces 95 minerals and has the same potential like South Africa and Australia but still imports minerals like gold and coal.

Currently, he noted that the mining sector contributes 1.75 per cent to the country's GDP and through the reforms proposed in the bill, the contribution will rise to 2.5 per cent and strengthen the economy.

'The reform in the mining sector would generate 55 lakh direct and indirect employment. To enhance mining activity, we will allow private sector with enhanced technology in mineral exploration,' he said.

On provisions pertaining to District Mineral Foundation (DMF), the minister said the government is only asking states to include Members of Parliament in a committee while deciding on spending the money from it. 'We are only sending broader guidelines,' he pointed out.

The bill to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, would bring in mega reforms in the sector with resolution in legacy issues, thereby making a large number of mines available for auctions.

It will also help strengthen the auction-only regime and boost transparency in the system.

The bill also seeks to remove the distinction between captive and non-captive mines as well as introduce an index-based mechanism by developing a National Mineral Index (NMI) for various statutory payments.

In order to boost exploration, there will be a review of functioning of the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET), which will also be made an autonomous body.

Simplification of exploration regime will be carried out to facilitate seamless transition from exploration to production.

The major objective of the reforms is to generate huge employment opportunities, reduce imports and increase production by bringing large mineral blocks into auction.

Regarding FDI in the mining sector, Joshi said it has been done to attract foreign investment and technology.

'To participate in auction process, a foreign player needs to register in India as an Indian company and all the laws will be applied to those companies...,' he noted.

Participating in the discussion on the bill, Congress member Vincent Pala asked the government why is the mines act is being amended every year. PTI JD RAM MR