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| Last Updated:22/04/2020

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Draft mining Bill moots clearance deadline


Financial Express,  New Delhi, 1st January, 20122
In a bid to fasttrack approval of mining projects in the country, the government proposes to fix a time frame within which state governments will have to clear mining applications of companies. The draft new mining Bill has proposed that state government will have to clear mining lease applications within a period of three months from the date it gets environment management plans from companies.
The proposal also aims to make state governments facilitators by making them responsible for getting initial environment clearance for projects on behalf of the companies.
Currently, it takes about three months from the time a company files application for getting mining lease for a mineral block to issuance of letter of intent (LoI). The companies are then required to prepare environment management plan and apply for getting first stage environment clearance. This process is usually cumbersome where companies are required to file several documents and make presentations on their mining plans resulting delays extending from few months to a few years.
Under the changes proposed in the new Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2010, state governments will get initial clearance from the environment ministry so that lease can be given to companies within a specified period of time. As part of the initial environment clearance process, the state government will get the enumeration of forest produce and calculate the net present value( NPV) and compensatory afforestation cost for mining projects.
This will help the companies to know their exact liability as part ofgetting clearances provided under the Forest Conservation Act.
“The changes will bring transparency in the system and also speed up the process of getting the mining leases,” said a government official involved on finalising the draft of the new Bill.
Apart from making state governments facilitators, the new mining Bill also makes them fully responsible to decide on mining applications within a specified time. It has been proposed that if state falters or sits on applications beyond a specified time, the application would get deemed clearance with the Centre giving the final nod. This provision has been included as state have been culprits on sitting on several mining applications without either clearing them or rejecting them.
With ministry of coal already issuing a Cabinet note to remove the hurdles put by environment ministry in form of ‘go’ and ‘no-go’ area, further clarity in the draft of new mining Bill has been much appreciated by various ministries part of ministerial group looking at the new policy.
The Bill is currently being debated by a group of ministers headed by FM Pranab Mukherjee. Once getting clearance it will have to get Cabinet clearance after which the new Bill will be introduced in Parliament for enactment. It is expected to get introduced during the Budget session in February.