NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Bill replacing the Ordinance on mines’ auction despite some Opposition members pushing for amendments in the legislation. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, was passed amid vociferous protests from TMC, BJD, Congress and RSP members.
As the Centre did not agree to anyone of the amendments moved by these MPs, they staged a walkout. Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Bill will increase transparency, ensure discretion, augment production and benefit the local population. He noted that the iron ore production had declined to 152 million tonnes in 2013-14 from 218 million tonnes in 2009-10 and its export slumped to 16 million tonnes from 47 million tonnes.
“This sector forms over two per cent of the GDP but it is in deep crisis. It is one of the biggest employers and its revival will give jobs to the youth,” Tomar said, adding that the Bill envisaged spending a fixed percentage of revenue generated from mining on the development of the area.
However, most of the MPs from the mineral-producing states wanted to move amendments to the Bill to protect the interests of the tribals. They were also opposed to the mines being leased out for 50 years.
Even senior BJP leader Karia Munda lamented that the plight of the tribals has worsened after being displaced for development and sought a blueprint for their welfare. He wondered how effectively the private sector would take care of the interests of tribals.
Opposing the Bill, A Sampath (CPM) said that with the changes in the mines and minerals law, the country would be ‘at the mercy’ of the corporates. While moving his amendment, BJD MP Tathagata Satapathy accused the government of “not acknowledging the existence of adivasis.