The Union Tribal Affairs Ministry has asked the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the draft Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Bill,2010,to actively consider routing monetary compensation to project-affected people through banks,especially to the women of such households. It has also demanded compensation for the displaced for their cultural loss.
Tribal Affairs minister Kantilal Bhuria told the Group of Ministers (GoM) chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at its meeting on July 30 that gram sabhas should be be mandatorily consulted for all mining projects. At present,local bodies are not involved while mineral concession applications are processed.
In the draft MMDR Bill,the mines ministry has mandated mining companies to pay reasonable annual compensation to those in their project areas holding occupation or usufruct or traditional rights. Clause no 42 (2) of the new Draft MMDR Bill 2010 says,The holder of a mining lease shall,in respect of any person or persons holding occupation or usufruct or traditional rights of the surface of the land over which the lease has been granted be liable to allot free shares equal to 26 per cent,through the promoters quota in case the holder of lease is a company,or,an annuity equal to 26 per cent of the profit (after deduction of tax paid) in case holder of lease is a person,on account of annual compensation. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh,who was present at the meeting,said that a regular annual revenue stream to the affected persons was indispensable and the merits of the equity route model would need to be considered in this light.
Ramesh also said that the affected persons should be given a stake in the mining company for them to have a feeling of being a shareholder and being able to influence the management. But the mines ministry is unsure on how this should be fructified. It has reasoned that if the benefit sharing is to take a clear monetised form,revenue sharing is no doubt simpler and less prone to creative accounting solutions. Bhuria also demanded before the GoM that the the tribal population to be displaced because of the mining projects should be adequately compensated for cultural loss and a separate component be included in the Bill. This is bound to trigger a serious debate on the feasibility of the proposal and on ways to execute it.
Commerce Minister Anand ,Sharma too,agreed on the issue of ensuring stakeholders rights in the mining sector and told the GoM that his ministry would send a detailed note highlighting its suggestions. Steering clear of this issue,Law Minister Veerappa Moily pointed out that since the functions of a tribunal and a regulatory authority were different,the mines ministry should re-consider its proposal to convert the National Mining Tribunal to a National Mineral Regulatory Authority.
This,he argued,was important as the Tribunal had a quasi-judicial authority.