President Pranab Mukherjee has signed an ordinance on mines and minerals – the 10th Ordinance since the NDA government came to power.
The ordinance will bring into force other rules and procedures that would help make illegal mining a cognizable offence and strengthen the revision powers of the central government.
The ordinance will also make auction the method for grant of mineral concessions to a category of minerals and prescribe separate procedures for grant of reconnaissance permit, prospecting licence and mining lease.
The new law is expected to do away with a number of mining leases and clean up the corruption in the procedure of grant of leases. Currently, leases are granted for 30 years which are then expected to be renewed every 20 years.
Currently illegal mining is non-cognizable offence – which means the police needs a warrant to make an arrest even if it catches offenders red-handed. This has been considered a weakness in the current laws on mining.
The government has brought in several key ordinances since the winter session of Parliament ended on December 23, invoking much criticism from the opposition.
Ordinances are an emergency provision in the Constitution, and the opposition argues that it should be used sparingly. The government has introduced nine ordinances in the past seven months.
There are two ordinances which still need to be sent or signed by the president they are the arbitration ordinance and the public premises eviction ordinance.