May 24, 2010 11:47:36 pm
The mines ministry is all set to be re-christened as the Ministry of Mineral Development. After having deliberated at length,the ministry has decided to re-name itself and will soon seek the approval of cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar.
Arguing that the word mine is restricted only to one of the activities of mineral development,which range from mineral exploration to finished mineral products and metals,the ministry has decided to rename itself as well as redefine its role. In the backdrop of the proposal involving local population in mineral development by giving them equity/annuity,the mines ministry would like to be perceived as an economic development ministry along with a regulatory role. We want to change the perception of people that my ministry does not serve the common man. We are for them and for promoting their inclusiveness. Therefore we would like to take on a bigger responsibility of mineral development,where the host population will play a bigger part, mines minister B K Handique told The Indian Express .
He reasoned that it was also appropriate that functioning of all the organisations that the ministry controls such as Geological Survey of India,Indian Bureau of Mines,National Aluminium Company Ltd,Hindustan Copper Ltd and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd matches completely with the concept of mineral development rather than mining alone.
Earlier,mines ministry also included coal,mines and steel together. Either for administrative convenience or for political expediency,these functions were separated.
A new Bill also proposes National Mineral Development Fund,along with a state mineral development fund,so that the resources generated through this mechanism will also be used to assist the state government and other agencies for sustainable mineral development.
Though Handique did not elaborate,informed sources said that his ministry might remind the cabinet secretary of its demand for seeking control over National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC),which is currently under the steel ministry. The steel and mines ministries had earlier fought a turf war on who should have the final say on granting of mineral concessions.
The mines ministry is entrusted with the responsibility for enacting legislations for regulation of mines and development of minerals in the country and regulation of the mineral sector except coal,lignite and sand. Conscious that it needs to reorient itself in the changed circumstances,Handiques ministry has moved forward to develop a sustainable development framework for the mining sector to ensure that mining operations were undertaken keeping in view the interest of all stakeholders,including the host population and also environment.
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