SS Roy speaks on Mines and Minerals (Amendment) Bill, 2015 | Transcript

Full transcript:

Sir, as an ordinary student of law and as a new entrant to this August House, the Upper House of our great Parliament, I was wondering whether the discussion should be limited to half an hour or one hour, because according to me this is a major amendment of the original Act and this House ought to discuss the matter threadbare.

Unfortunately, I am disappointed that much time has not been given for highlighting the provisions of the Bill one after another. In any case, since I am duty bound to abide by the ruling of the Chair, I would make a few points in addition to the suggestion made by my Leader in the House, Mr Derek O’Brien. I would urge upon the Government at the outset to consider the constructive suggestions given by Mr Derek O’Brien on behalf of my party.

In addition to that, I would like to point out one particular area of the country which is Keonjhar district in the State of Odisha. All of us know that Keonjhar is a very backward district of our country, but everybody will be amused to know that three of the top taxpayers of the country among the top ten tax payers are from Keonjhar.

How could it be?

Those three out of the top ten taxpayers of the country from Keonjhar do not belong from the area but they are the owners of the mines situated in Keonjhar district. So, this is the tragedy of the mining areas of the country.

Sir, let me draw attention towards one of the major provisions of the principal Act. According to that provision it is incumbent upon the Central Government to take all such steps as may be necessary for the conservation and systematic development of minerals in India.

What is the conservation that we are doing, Sir? We cannot add one tonne of any mineral to any mine in this country or anywhere in the world. Whatever natural resources God has gifted to this country, we own that. We cannot add anything to that. We are selling out, we are leasing out, we are extracting, we are finishing, we are ruining, without thinking about the conservation of the mines to the extent it is required for the betterment of the country’s economy.

Sir, what are we leaving for our next generation? One of the major provisions of this Amendment Bill is that the ownership or lease will be granted for 50 years. What about the prospective renewal for 50 years? Is there any assessment made by the Government that the lease is granted before the commencement of this Act, Amendment Bill or the Ordinance whether those people who have been granted mining lease are acting according to the provisions of the parent Act? There is no such assessment, Sir.

Therefore, I would urge upon the Government to make an assessment of each and every lease granted to the lessee and to be granted to the lessees. All these lease contracts should be assessed for the betterment of our economy.

Finally, my friend from Odisha has highlighted about the trust, the State Trust and National Trust, no details about the formation of the trust is given. My humble suggestion to the Government is that the participation of the State should be more and not only in State Trust, but in the process of giving allotment, the grant of lease and in the decision making process of e-tendering or other Government plans. In all decision making process the State Government must be taken into confidence.

And the lastly, if at all this Amendment Bill goes to the Select Committee, the Select Committee must decide on the Bill within a definite time frame and as quickly as possible, as this House has an authority under the Rules, to fix a time that the Select Committee must present a report in.

Thank you.

Saugata Roy Moves Amendments on Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2015 | Transcript

Sir, I beg to move Amendment one and two. They relate to Clause 7 of the Bill. Now Clause 7 relates with minerals specified in Part A of the First Schedule. Part A of the First Schedule deals with coal and lignite which is not under this Ministry, but since this is the Mines Act, coal is also covered.

All I have said, placed in line 24, for 30 years substituted with 20 years. Again, omit lines 25 and 26. I am not in favour of giving lifetime leases to people. Let it be 20 years, let the government see how they are lifting coal and how they are functioning, and then another auction can take place. So I beg to move amendments one and two.

Sir, I beg to move Amendments three, four, five, six to Clause 8. This deals with the minerals not included in the Part A and B of the First Schedule. As I mentioned, Part A deals with coal and lignite, Part B deals with atomic minerals and Part C is the most important because it deals with iron ore, bauxite, zinc ore, cooper ore, precious stone and everything.

Now the proposal is being given that mining leases will be given for 50 years. That is almost giving it in perpetuity. So this is very dangerous that somebody will get these precious minerals for 50 years. In this Sir, I want to mention that the minister without any auction is extending the lease of those captive mines. I as mentioned earlier that the big companies, both private sector and public sector like SAIL, Vizag Steel, ESSAR, Jindal, all of them are holding leases. Now without anything it has been extended to 2030. And now however will get in auction he will get it for 50 years. Is it fair? So, I want these 50 years to be brought down to 30 years. So that is why I move Amendments three, four, five and six.

Yeh mera Amendment jo hai, illegal mining ke liye saza aur kara karne ki liye hai. While I am totally against this Bill, because this sells away the nation’s treasures, I am for taking the strongest actions against those people who indulge in illegal mining, selling away the nation’s treasures in some other way. I have mentioned the loot in Bellary where whole hillocks of iron ore were just looted illegally during the BJP Government in Karnataka and exported abroad.

So Sir, I am moving my Amendment. For five years and fine, which may extend to five lakh rupees, extend it to seven years and with fine which may extend to 7 lakh rupees. Yeh chor o saza hona chahiye, jo desh ka tijori bechata hai.

Saugata Roy Speaks on Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2015 | Transcript

Full transcript: 

Deputy Speaker Sir, we oppose the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill that has been brought. Mr Premchandran has dealt in details with his objections. I am also a signatory to the Statutory Resolution disapproving the Ordinance. I feel the Government is actually playing with the process of the legislation. First a Law was brought in 2011, and then it was referred to a Standing Committee. The Standing Committee submitted the Report, at the time the Bill could not be passed because the Parliament was dissolved.

Now this Government introduced the Bill, then without any necessity they passed an Ordinance and after the Ordinance they have again come to this Bill. I thought that this Bill, which affects a large number of the people in the country should be taken more seriously.

Sir, I shall point out just three things. In case of mines and minerals there is an old act, 1957 Act in which there are three Schedules. In the first Schedule one is coal and lignite, part two is atomic bearing minerals and part three deals with all the mines and minerals like bauxite, chrome, copper ore, gold, iron ore, zinc, precious stone and manganese.

Now in this current Amendment a new Schedule has been brought. The fourth Schedule has taken out some minerals into a different consideration. They have said bauxite, limestone, iron ore and manganese are not included.

Now I want to point out that mines and minerals are very sensitive areas.

Sir, I also point out that I just said BJP Minister and they started shouting, so I named the BJP Minister if you want I will withdraw his name.

I am saying that exploration of minerals is a big public issue anywhere. As it happened in Karnataka, similarly it happened in the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha, similarly iron mining by Chougules, it was stopped due to Supreme Court’s order in Goa.

Sir, the other important point, I want to point out to the Minister, that our mineral resources are in those areas where the people are the poorest. They are mostly in forested areas, hilly areas which are inhabited by tribals. The tribals are poorest.So, when we are going to exploit mineral resources, do remember the tribals.

Sir, I was just looking at the constitution, the tribal areas are called the ‘Scheduled 5’ areas and most of these mineral resources are in here.  You cannot take land in Scheduled 5 areas without the consent of the Gram Sabhas of the tribals.

Lastly, one has to remember the multinationals are out to exploit India’s mineral wealth and they are targeting these tribal areas which are leading to conflict. The Maoist problem in Chhattisgarh, in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha, is due to attempt of the multinationals to take their areas for mineral exploration.

So when I look at this law, I do not look at it as a mere piece of legislation. I look at it with a point of view of socio-economic impact on the life and culture of these poorest people. The strange thing is places which are mineral rich, the people are abysmally poor. No exploration, no exploitation should be allowed which does not improve the condition of the people living in these areas.  This should prove the bedrock of all our policies on mineral exploration.

Now let us see what the Minister in this law is actually doing. There are some very dangerous elements.  One I would like to mention Sir, what is known as captive mines. Which are captive mines? Particularly iron ore, big companies own the captive mines. Now, by this law, that those who have captive mines, their lease will be extended to 2030. Those who are merchant miners, their lease will be extended to 2020. Now, you are saying that all new leases will be fixed by auction. Now the big owners, their leases will continue without any auctioning till 2030 – this is what the Odisha Chief Minister has protested against. He said end the leases from the day the law is passed, have a free auction, nobody will object to that. This is something we object too.

The second thing they are saying, have given an amendment, hence all the leases fixed by auction will be for 50 years. It was always 30 years earlier, suddenly in order to entice multinationals into auction process, they are saying you get the auction then your lease will be for 50 years. We totally oppose, no lease should be beyond 30 years, as was previously in the law.

There are some good points in the Law, for instance they have spoken of strict mineral board, in order to look after the welfare of the people staying in the mining areas.

They have another proposal, National Mineral Exploration Board from which the 2% royalty will be given to this. Now this is nothing new. Mineral Exploration has been going on scientifically in this country for 100 years. You know of a geologist called Pramathanath Bose. He first discovered the land where Tata Steel Plant at Jamshedpur is situated. He found that next pit best iron ore mines.  Now, we have the Mineral Exploration Corporation of India, Public Sector Undertaking, we have the Indian Bureau of Mines, a Government organisation. We have got the Geological Survey of India, which has been doing mining and prospective for more than 150 year. Now it is not that no exploration has been done. You are suddenly saying that we are setting up a new investment board which will explore minerals. So, one is to keep in mind that suddenly opening up this whole sector to Indian and foreign multinationals, we have to take into account all the aspects, the economic aspect, the aspect of the tribal’s and the aspect of ecology and environment as was pointed out in the case of  Niyamgiri.

Lastly Sir, this law tends to make punishment for illegal mining. I fully support that. Whoever does illegal mining without the approval of the Government is doing a wrong thing. But at the same time the Central Government has not followed co-operative federalism in matter of this law, which is why Mr Naveen Patnaik  is very angry.

I will end by quoting Mr Naveen Patnaik. Sir, let me quote. He referred to proposed amendments under Section 30, which allows the Centre to pass an order where no order has been made by the State within stipulated time period. Odisha, which accounts to 50-70% of the countries iron ore, bauxite and chrome, is not the only state wary of this introduction of this new clause.

So, I would like to point out to the Minister that your law is a very complicated piece of Law. Instead of putting an Amendment Law, you should have brought the Law afresh. So that you do not have to refer to the original Law every time you want to find out. Please remove the Law and bring a fresh Law and let it come before the Parliament, a comprehensive one. Take care of the interest of the State, take care of the problem of the exploitation of poor and tribal people. We will support it.

Than you, Sir.