The Rajya Sabha passed Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Bill, and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill after voting.
The government managed to get the support of all other parties except Congress and Left parties. The MMDR bill was passed with 117 votes in favour and 69 against. On the other bill, 107 members voted in favour and 62 against.
The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill:
- It seeks to amend the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act 1973 by allowing private coal mining companies to sell coal in the open market.
- Until now, private companies were allocated coal mines only for ‘captive’ use, meant for consumption in their own power, cement or iron and steel industries.
- The bill also introduces several provisions such as e-auction, Categorization of mines, appointment of a nominated authority by Central government to look after auction process and transferring the proceeds from auction to the respective states. All these provision have been introduced to make auction of coal mines more transparent.
The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment bill:
- This bill seeks to extend the provisions of the existing Act, which regulates the mining sector, to new minerals like bauxite, iron ore and limestone as notified minerals.
- It allows the government to award prospecting-cum-mining licence, instead of just the mining licence. Prospecting means exploring or proving mineral deposits.
- The amendments will allow the government to increase the area of mining lease from the present 10 sq km limit, instead of granting a new licence.
Thus, passage of both the bills have replaced the ordinances promulgated by the government.