Aimed at ensuring ease of doing business and continuity in the supply of minerals to industries, the Environment Ministry has held that the successful bidder of a mining lease “shall be deemed to have acquired valid prior environmental clearance vested with the previous lessee for a period of two years” — provided the new lessee “shall apply and obtain prior environmental clearance” within that period.
The Ministry’s move, in an order issued on March 28, was necessitated by the need to align government policies after the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, was amended in January 2020 to include provisions for transfer of statutory clearances.
The Supreme Court, on February 7, 2018, directed successful bidders to obtain fresh environmental clearances while hearing the Goa Foundation versus Sesa Sterlite Limited matter. Accordingly, the Environment Ministry, on November 29, 2019, notified that new lessees would have to obtain fresh clearances through “an expeditious mechanism.”
It took the Ministry four months to modify its position and allow a two-year window for continuity. The March 28 notification also clarified that “transportation of already mined out material lying within the mining leases… by the previous lessee, after the expiry of the said lease, shall not form the part of the mining capacity so permitted to the successful bidder.”