Home >Politics >Policy >Coal mines bill gets Lok Sabha nod

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday cleared the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015 that aims at making the process of issuing coal mine leases more transparent. The bill must now be passed in the Rajya Sabha—where the National Democratic Alliance is in a minority—before it becomes law.

Addressing the Lok Sabha, coal and power minister Piyush Goyal highlighted some crucial aspects:

Looming crisis

Goyal gave repeated reminders of the “urgency" in passing the bill, as the expiry of the ordinance on 31 March could bring power production to a halt

High on transparency

Transparency ensured through e-auctions. Crisil appointed to come up with a formula to calculate reserve prices, government will stay out of the calculation

States’ involvement

States are being consulted and views being exchanged with them, prior to taking decisions

Who will get mines

States and public sector companies will be given mines; their requirements are being taken care of. Only companies registered under the Indian Companies Act, and foreign companies set up in India, can participate. Leases will run for 30 years

Proceeds go to states

States first get 10% of the fees followed by 14% royalty as coal continues to be extracted; additionally, they will get levy from production. Revenues will flow in as extraction continues

Welfare measures

Bill proposes strong measures for rehabilitation and compensation for farmers who are displaced. Illegal mining will be strictly punished.

Bureaucrats’ roles

No immunity for bureaucrats against corruption or offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Immunity being granted for actions taken in good faith. There is reluctance among some officials to take decisions. Many officers and bureaucrats under the scanner over the coal mine allocation scandal.

Addressing the opposition

The United Progressive Alliance government may have initiated the e-auction process but they never acted on it. Very happy to announce that the second phase of the auction to follow soon. 19 coal mines auctioned in the first phase.

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