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.