However, there are certain issues which I would like to bring to the notice of the hon. Minister, as sometimes, there is a vast difference between what a Bill prescribes and what is really practiced, and unless and until these matters are not given due consideration, the entire Bill would be an exercise in futility.
Firstly, although, compensatory afforestation is mandatory in the States, it is often found that the State Governments do not execute this aspect seriously, which is in turn leading to severe depletion of forests.
Secondly, at times mining leases which are granted to persons for a specific purpose i.e. as actual users, do not keep up their end of the commitment of setting up of plants within the States and start indulging in trading instead. In such cases, the mining lease should be reviewed and summary cancellation powers should be given conjointly to State and Central Governments.
Thirdly, Sir, there should be a review of the leased out area which is not under mining operation. For example, in Orissa it has been seen that big industrial houses and certain Public Sector Undertakings like TATA's and SAIL have taken vast areas for mining of iron ore, manganese and chrome ore, but in actuality, the mining operations are being carried out in a very small portion of the leased out area, while the rest of the area is just lying idle, thereby depriving others from getting mining leases. These kind of monopolistic tendencies should be discouraged.
There should be a definite time frame within which prospecting licences and mining leases are granted.
Stringent action should be taken against those units engaging child labour, flouting labour laws and using outdated mining techniques which are a major cause of health hazards.
Sir, canalization, as a concept, was relevant a few decades ago. In the current evolutionary export marketing concepts, these agencies only add to costs giving uncompetitive disadvantages. States are in a position to realize the best cost for national advantage and can very well do without labyrinthine agencies like MMTC. If this is done, the country, the State Governments and the Paradeep Port in Orissa will be the direct beneficiaries. For a beginning, export of iron ore and chrome ore should be decanalised.
Sir, I would like to know why we should treat all minerals and States at par. States contributing a paramount percentage of a high value mineral need to be specially rewarded. The Ministry must apply its mind in the current federal environment.
Royalty of all minerals should be increased, as the current rate of royalty is very low.
Sir, I also feel that why do we not think of giving incentives to States on parameters of; higher export value realization compared on a year to year basis; environmental concerns; coming down hard on illegal mining; ploughing back funds in backward areas from where minerals are exploited; technology investment attraction, and value addition.
Another point which I want to make, Sir, is that most of the mining operations are concentrated in tribally populated areas. Though we all feel very well about the theory of utilitarianism, which speaks about the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers, but I do not think that the rights of the minorities should be disregarded. Wherever the mining operations are taking place, the tribal populations are not adequately compensated.
So, my request to the hon. Minister would be that wherever the mining areas are taken by the State Government and leased out, the tribal population should be substantially compensated by giving agricultural land.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I support the Bill whole-heartedly as I feel that it would curtail red tapism and put an end to illegal mining thereby enhancing the revenue of the States.
SHRI BIKASH CHOWDHURY (ASANSOL): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, before coming to the points on this Bill, I would like to raise one point. Since Independence, still there is no National Mining Policy. We have observed that without having this National Mining Policy, all the mines which are operated throughout India are in an irregular way and we have found that somewhere slaughter of minings is being done along with slaughter of surface area because all these minings are concentrated in the tribal area.
I also think that whatever be the amendments the hon. Minister has put forward in this Bill, he will not be able to control all these irregularities that have been carried on by the promoters.
Now, these mineral fields have been opened to the multinationals. They are very strong. I do not know whether State Government or the Central Government could control them. That is why, I want to raise the point that the National Mining Policy be framed and under this Policy, all these mines or exploitation of minerals should be done. I hope the hon. Minister will take care of it and soon he will frame such a Policy.
Now, I come to the Bill. This Bill mainly deals with the delegation of the powers to the State Government. We find that a new concept, as the hon. Minister has told, `reconnaissance' is now included in these mineral fields. Reconnaissance is a new concept for India although it is not a new concept for global world. But here I find that the reconnaissance means through regional aeriality or physical or geochemical surveys or geological mapping. I cannot say whether another new concept of rock engineering study is being operated in a developing country and without which no mining should be done. I do not know whether geophysical includes such rock engineering or not.
If it is not, then I request the hon. Minister to include that the rock engineering study should be done in all the mines and should be submitted.
I find some contradiction here which should be clarified. The State Government notified for inviting applications from the persons. Here I find that those who have applied prior to this notification should be considered preferentially. On the other hand, those who have applied later ...
THE MINISTER OF MINES AND MINERALS (SHRI NAVEEN PATNAIK): Sir, may I interrupt for a second? Could I ask the hon. Member to repeat the last paragraph?
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : Shri Chowdhury, can you repeat the last sentence?
SHRI BIKASH CHOWDHURY (ASANSOL): Sir, I find here that the State Government will notify in the gazette for inviting applications for reconnaissance for prospecting, mining etc. But I find here that those who have applied earlier for such licences should be considered preferentially and also the applications of those who have applied earlier should be considered preferentially. What is the meaning or utility of such notification issued by the State Government? That is why I would like to point out that it should be clarified.
There is another thing. The hon. Members said earlier regarding environment. It is a big subject and not only the surface area is being devastated but the jungle area is completely destroyed. Even the underground water is also damaged because the multinationals are coming with very up-to-date and heavy machines like HMM and they go beneath upto 200 metres of depth. Then all the water bodies, underground water bodies or semi-bodies will be destroyed and water scarcity will be there. It will be a big clear problem for the inhabitants who are living by the side of the mines. The mining lease is to be given yearly. Hon. Minister proposes giving upto 20 kilometres and like that. So far as I remember, they may be given such mining licence upto 20 kilometres. That is why it is a very big area and it will create heavy problem in the surrounding areas - not just the adjacent areas but the surrounding areas. It will go to the farthest upto 5 to 10 kilometres and that problem will be there. That is why it should be taken care of. I want to know what machinery will be there to prevent all these things. I do not know.
The hon. Member referred to rehabilitation.
It is a very hard problem. It is a very hard task because the people are inhabiting on these lands, they have too much of sentimental attachment with their residences and they are not ready to move from these places. In this case, I request that the Government - whichever it be, the State Government or the Central Government - must come forward to discuss with them about it and not evict them. If there is eviction, it will create other problems. Here, I would like to point out that they should discuss about it with them. Thereafter, the Government should decide or those people should decide to move elsewhere.
Now, I will come to another point relating to - the Government has also brought it here - stop illegal mining. There is some process which he has put down here. It is said that the illegal transportations may be apprehended in transit. But how? How can the persons who apprehend prove that those materials are taken illegally because the leaseholders of legal mines are doing illegal mining. If they have produced 100 tonnes, out of this 100 tonnes, we see that 30 tonnes are despatched ahead of the rest. How could it be prevented and apprehended? I am asking this because we have seen in our area that such illegal mining, not illegal mining but pilferations, are there in large number and such illegal transportations are being carried on.
I want to point out here about the method of mining that should be there. On the point of criteria, I would quote from clause 12. It says:
"(3) The matters referred to in sub-section (2) are the following:-
(a) any special knowledge of, or experience in, reconnaissance operations, prospecting operations or mining operations, as the case may be, possessed by the applicant;
(b) the financial resources of the applicant;"
I want to propose to include herein `what mode of mining they want to resort to or adopt." Here, I find a mention about excavation. Excavation is a very dangerous thing. Here, it should be pointed out whether they can do mining with some other methods. That is why, I want to request the hon. Minister to consider this. They should possess the updated machinery. Is it not? It is not written here.
Now, what type of up-dated machines are we talking about? There are many factories in our country which are capable of manufacturing indigenously such machines as would be required by the mining industry. I would like to know from the hon. Minister whether we could prevail on the applicants for mining to carry on their mining operations with the help of such indigenously built machines.
1501 hours (Dr. Laxminarayan Pandey in the Chair)
Sir, in conclusion I must say that the National Policy for Mining should be framed at the earliest and that should be the guiding principle for carrying out mining operations throughout the country.
SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO (JAGATSINGHPUR): Mr. Chairman, Sir, this Mining and Minerals (Regulation) and Development Bill, 1999 has three aspects, namely:-
First, it envisages to change the short title and the long title of the Bill. Second, it envisages to add one more function to the existing prospecting and mining operations and that is the reconnaissance operations. Third, it intends to give more powers to the States. These are the three aspects of this amendment Bill.
Sir, firstly, I exactly do not understand and I expect the hon. Minister to clarify and explain as to why he wants a change in the short title and the long title of the Bill. Earlier, it was the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 and now it would be known as the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. I do not know as to why this has to be done.
Sir, so far as the Constitution of India is concerned, under the seventh Schedule, in Union List No. I, item number 54, it has been mentioned:
"Regulation of mines and mineral development to the extent to which such regulation and development under the control of the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest".
Sir, my point is that the earlier provisions of the short title and the long title were in conformity with the provisions of Entry number 54 of List I of the Constitution of India. I do not know, why then the hon. Minister wants to change it?
Sir, secondly, in clause 3 of the Bill, the hon. Minister proposes to change to `development and regulations' instead of the existing `regulation and development'. If this amendment Bill is passed, how then clause 1 would form part of this Bill? I do not understand this. I hope, the hon. Minister would clarify this position.
The second aspect, of course, is a good idea and that is of reconnaissance operations. But I would like to concentrate on the third aspect and that is about giving more powers to the States.
Sir, you know that there are certain areas of discord and disharmony between the Centre and the States. The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act is one such area.
It gives rise to discord and disharmony between the Centre and States not because of other provisions of the Act but because of Section 9 and more particularly Subsection (3) where imposition of royalty, inclusion of Second Schedule to the Act, and the revision of royalty have been provided. A lot has been said about giving more power to the States. But, unless the power of fixation or revision of royalty is given to the States, it amounts to not giving any power to the States at all. Mineral bearing States had been suffering for a long time because of the existing provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957. However, they have been somehow managing till 1991 when Justice Ranganath Misra, the then Chief Justice, gave his verdict in a case in Supreme Court declaring cess as ultra vires. Since then, the mineral bearing States have been suffering.
Sir, this Act of 1957 with the incorporation of Section 9 and Subsection (3), the law is not in conformity with the Constitution of India. It was a colourable legislation. It was beyond the power of Parliament to enact such a legislation. Even then it was passed by the Parliament and it has been followed by the entire country. No State had raised any question even with the Sarkaria Commission because they were imposing cess and somehow they were compensating for the loss caused by the royalty fixed by the Centre. The Sarkaria Commission, therefore, did not take note of all those things. Royalty on coal was revised in 1991. It was revised again in 1994. Though it was to be revised by October, 1997, it has not yet been revised. In 1991 it was revised for all States, In 1994 it was revised for all States excluding West Bengal and Assam. Cess in West Bengal has not been declared ultra vires because that cess law has been protected under Article 372 of the Constitution of India. That is the reason why they are not shouting over it. That is the reason why West Bengal people have not expressed their unhappiness as yet. But the other poor mineral bearing States have been suffering.
In the original Act of 1957, it was mentioned that royalty fixed by the Union will not be more than 20 per cent of the sale value of the mineral at the pithead. An assurance was given to all States here in this august House that royalty shall be as near as 20 per cent of pit-mouth value. Unfortunately, till date no royalty on any mineral, let alone coal, has been fixed at 20 per cent of the pit-mouth value. At the same time, the States have lost their cess also.
I would say that this is a colourable legislation and this is not constitutional also. I refer to the great verdict of the Supreme Court in the Keshavanand Bharti case where he said that out of the five basic structures of the Constitution, `the federal character of the Constitution is to be retained' is one. By defining:
"About Federalism, the Supreme Court has opined in this historic decision, "our Constitution is federal in character and not unitary. In a federal structure and existence of both the Union and the States is indispensable and so is the power of judicial review."
Quoting Decey, (the Law of the Constitution) the court further says, "the Federal State derives its existence from the Constitution, just as a corporation derives its existence from the grant by which it is created.Hence every power - executive, legislative or judiciary - whether it belongs to the nation or the individual State is subordinate to and controlled by the Constitution."
MR. CHAIRMAN : Kindly be brief.
SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO : I shall take only three or four minutes more. I will not take much time.
Sir, the quote further says:
"The object for which a Federal State is formed involves a division of authority between the National Government and the separate States. Federalism can flourish only among communities imbued with a legal spirit trained to reverence the law."
I would say that in the Seventh Schedule itself - so far as the List two is concerned, that is the State List is concerned, entry No.50 - `taxes on mineral rights subject to any limitations imposed by Parliament by law relating to mineral development'. Taxation on mineral right is a right of the State Government; regulation and development is the right of the Central Government or the Government of India. So, regulation and development never include taxation. Taxation has been separately provided in the State List.
Under such circumstances, why did the Central Government usurp the power? I strongly oppose this and I request the hon. Minister to take up this matter with his colleagues in the Cabinet so that it is reviewed. These were not mentioned in the Sarkaria Commission because cess was there. The Sarkaria Commission gave its report in 1988. In 1991, Justice Ranganath Misra gave his verdict in the Supreme Court.
Therefore, the mineral-bearing State Governments have been suffering since 1991. It is good that more powers have been given to the States at point of time. It will be a commendable step if the hon. Minister of Mines and Minerals, particularly when he is from Orissa understands this, takes up this matter with the Cabinet and brings suitable amendment for this purpose.
I have no objection to the provisions, except the change in the short title and the long title. So far as other provisions are concerned, I am fully one with them. But if you want to maintain federal harmony, if you want to maintain proper accord and harmony between the States and the Centre, royalty and taxation on minerals which are the State subjects, are transferred to the States at the earliest.