Union Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said the Centre would act only on applications for mining in notified areas pending amendment to MMDR Act, in view of Shah Commission’s recommendations.
On the Commission’s recommendation for a CBI probe into mining scam in Odisha, Tomar said the panel has stated there was illegal mining and the government is examining the issue seriously taking all aspects and role of different agencies and departments into account.
“Keeping in view Shah Commission’s report and Supreme Court’s findings, the Centre has decided to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957. Till then our effort is to ensure transparency in the process,” he told reporters here.
Stating that applications for mining in both notified and non-notified areas are pending before the government, the Union Minister said in order to make the process transparent, the Centre has decided to consider the cases of notified mining areas only till MMDR Act is amended.
“Since notified areas are formally notified with proper dimension by the state governments which invite applications for mining, applications for these belts are considered to have come in a transparent manner,” he said.
On the other hand, applications for mining in non-notified areas would be sent back to the state to be re-examined, Tomar said adding the states can take appropriate steps, including formally notifying the zones.
In the meantime, the Centre is moving forward in the direction of amending the MMDR Act, 1957 for which it has been holding discussion with state governments and obtaining their views and suggestions, the Minister said, adding, the Centre is determined to ensure transparency in mining operations.
He said before visiting Odisha and holding discussion with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, he had been to states like Goa, Rajasthan and Karnataka and spoke to their CMs.
Stating that the Shah Commission’s report had been tabled in Parliament, he said the state government has said its agencies like vigilance are probing into irregularities and it is not the right time to talk about CBI inquiry. It could affect investigation and prosecution by state agencies.
Moreover, the matter is also being looked into by the Supreme Court, he said adding whatever is appropriate would be done to prevent illegalities and ensure transparency in exploitation of mineral resources.
Tomar and Mines Secretary A K Pujari, who was also present, said Shah panel report and the action taken report had been tabled in Parliament. Narendra Modi government would respect the state government’s decision on vigilance enquiry into mining scam, Tomar said.
No CBI enquiry into mining scam will be done without the recommendation of the state government, they said.
The Centre would respect the federal spirit and work together with all state governments for better growth and development of the country, they said.
Stressing the Centre’s desire for sustainable development in mining sector, Tomar said at present the state governments are required to take permission for mining and raising minerals in respect of 10 minerals like bauxite, manganese, coal and iron ore.
On Supreme Court’s remarks on coal block allocation, the Union Minister said the Centre is looking into all angles of the apex courts observation as coal affects many other activities and different sectors.
However, the Centre will take a final decision after Supreme Court disposes of the case in its totality, he said.
The recent mineral royalty revision is an example of how the Modi government deals with every problem of different parts of the country.
Mineral rich states like Odisha would benefit immensely from the decision, the minister said adding Odisha will earn over Rs 1,600 crore additional revenue annually from mineral royalty.
Noting that forest and environment clearances play a major role in implementation of different projects, Tomar said now it has been decided to allow state governments to take decision on such areas up to five hectares in order to facilitate speedy implementation.