Tribal states can now make own mining laws

From CK Nayak

Amendment to Clause 9 of Mines Bill okayed

New Delhi: Tribal states falling under the Sixth and Fifth Schedules which include Meghalaya will have some benefits after Parliament passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, (MMDRA) on Friday, since it includes an amendment to this effect.
According to a statement from Shillong MP Vincent H Pala, Parliament has adopted an amendment to Clause 9 of the Bill. This amendment empowers the concerned state Governments under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule to frame rules relating to mining and mineral development in accordance with Article 244 of the Constitution of the country.
Article 244 governs the administration of Scheduled and Tribal areas excepting Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. These four states are government by the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. This was also the basic demand of Meghalaya and other coal and mineral rich states.
This view was also partly supported by the nominated MP KTS Tulsi, who said there were at least three rulings of the Supreme Court that had established that the State Governments had rights over mines as well as the land on which the mines were located.
The previous laws said that for the development of any mineral, the Central Government could permit a person to acquire one or more licenses or leases covering additional area.
Following the ban by the NGT, Pala had a meeting with the party chief Sonia Gandhi who consulted AICC General Secretary  V Narayanswamy and Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Following this meeting the amendment to Clause 9 was inserted and the ruling party accepted the same.
But the Congress and Left parties opposed the Bill since they wanted the same to be referred to the Select Committee. Pala also wrote several letters to the Select Committee and brought some amendments during the last session, which were rejected by the ruling party.
The amended Mines and Mineral Bill has put the onus on the tribal states to make necessary rules to bring the Mining Act of Parliament in tune with special provisions under Article 244, Pala said.
This was also the demand of the Meghalaya Government which has lost revenue amounting to at least Rs 600  crore since the NGT ban, an elated Pala said.

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