State govt mulls amendment to Concessions Act to resume mining

Panaji: Under pressure from mining dependants to take necessary action for resumption of mining, the government seems to be looking at amending the Goa, Daman and Diu Mining Concessions (abolition and declaration as mining leases) Act, 1987, sources in the ruling coalition said.

Sources said that this was one option as that there is no positive response from the Centre to the Goa government’s request to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act. Mining activities have stopped since March 16, 2018, following an order of the Supreme Court which held that the renewal of 88 mining leases was illegal.

Until December 20, BJP functionaries had been saying that the Centre is still considering an amendment to the MMDR Act during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament.

Minister of state for mines and coal, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, in response to a question tabled by South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar on Wednesday, said “A proposal has been received from the Goa government to amend the MMDR Act, 1957, and the same is under examination in the ministry of mines.”

The minister, in his reply, also said that Section 8A (4) of MMDR Act, “provides that on expiry of the lease period, the lease shall be put up for auction” as per the procedure specified in the Act.

While Sawaikar may be hopeful, other BJP functionaries are of the view that the central government is not keen to amend the MMDR Act to benefit a small state like Goa for resumption of mining activities. Besides setting a new precedent, the view in the government is that the state request would go against the spirit of the act enacted by the Modi government in 2015 which was for auctioning of the natural resources, sources said.

Sources said the BJP central leadership in Delhi is examining the provisions of the Mining Concessions Act, 1987, for necessary amendment to get mining activities restarted in Goa.

A political observer said that after the results in the recently-held elections where BJP lost power in three states, the ruling party is under pressure not to ignore issues concerning the common man especially the ones which are related to employment.

On Sunday, president, Goa Minining People’s Front, Puti Gaonkar told TOI that they will meet on December 27 to take stock of the situation. Sources said that a team including some ministers will leave for Delhi later this week, most probably soon after Christmas.

Courtesy: The Times of India