The crucial Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Bill, as well as the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill 2015 have been passed by the Parliament.
The coal Bill opens the sector for commercial mining and aims to facilitate the auction of over 200 cancelled coal blocks. The auction of the coal mines had led to a huge scandal during the UPA regime in which former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also an accused.
The Bill for the development of mines and minerals seeks to introduce a regime of auction to grant prospecting licences, like for coal blocks. It proposes that there will no renewal of mining concessions, unlike the original act of 1957. But it proposes a licence for 50 years as against 30 now. The government has already identified 199 mines for auction.
The legislation also calls for the setting up of a District Mineral Foundation where mining takes place that will address the grievances of the people affected by mining, with a contribution not exceeding a third of the royalty rate.
Another body, the National Mineral Exploration Trust, shall be appointed by the central government for regional and pan-India planning.
The Bill adds a new schedule to include mining of bauxite, iron ore, limestone and manganese ore, now called notified minerals, under its purview.