A new draft bill to replace the Mines and Minerals Development Regulation Act,1957,would be placed before the Cabinet soon,a senior government official said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The government is expected to place the bill to enact a new Mines and Minerals (Scientific Development and Regulation) Act in the winter session of Parliament.
“It (enactment of the new legislation) will take a few months only. It is a major policy so it requires Cabinet approval,” Planning Commission Member B K Chaturvedi told reporters in New Delhi on the sidelines of the Indian Coal Market Conference.
He said once the bill is enacted,competitive bidding will be introduced for allocation of coal blocks — a move that would benefit consuming industries like power and steel.
“Planning Commission says that the process for allotting coal blocks should be transparent and it should not be based on an assessment which people are not able to understand…it is also keen that …the coal block can get exploited fast and a large number of blocks which you have given,they are able to produce coal for power and other sectors,” Chaturvedi said.
At present,a screening committee under the Coal Ministry approves allotment of coal blocks for captive use to public and private companies.
The new Act would ensure more revenues to the state governments,in addition to the royalty they get from the coal extracted from the blocks.
Domestic power and steel companies have been voicing for speedy allocation of coal blocks to meet their production targets in time.
At present,the Minerals and Metals (Development and Regulation) Act,1957,governs the process of exploration,mining and allotment of coal and lignite blocks. The total coal reserves in the country stands at about 257.3 billion tonnes,out of which proven reserves are estimated to be around 94-95 billion tonnes.