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PMO asks Mines Ministry to address Chhattisgarh Guv`s concerns

PMO has asked the Mines Ministry to address issues, including granting licences on First-Come, First-Serve (FCFS) basis, raised by the Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt.

Updated: Feb 14, 2011, 21:17 PM IST

New Delhi: The Prime Minister`s Office (PMO)
has asked the Mines Ministry to address issues, including
granting licences on First-Come, First-Serve (FCFS) basis,
raised by the Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt.

Objecting to the Ministry`s proposal of FCFS for granting
mineral licences in the proposed new mines law, the Governor
had sought PMO`s intervention and allotment through
competitive bidding as is in the oil and natural gas sectors.

"The PMO has asked us to address issues raised by the
Chhattisgarh Governor. We are in the process of a point-wise
reply to the concerns raised by him," a senior Mines Ministry
official said.

The new draft already addresses such concerns and says
that the state government may invite applications in the form
of competitive offer for any mineral except coal for
mineral-rich land for grant of a prospecting licences, the
official said.

Dutt, the official said, in his letter had questioned
provisions of the proposed Mines and Minerals Development and
Regulation (MMDR) Bill, 2010, being drafted by the Mines
Ministry, including grant of licences on FCFS basis.

In his letter he had demanded that it be made through
competitive bidding on the pattern of oil and gas exploration
licencing.

He had also demanded lifting of restriction on states to
issue notification on an area over which applications for
grant of Prospecting Licence (PL)/ Large Area Prospecting
Licence (LAPL) were pending with the state.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has already
raised the issue before the Centre earlier.

In the fourth meeting on Mines Bill on December 3, the
Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee, constituted to reach a consensus on law, had asked
Mines Ministry to address concerns of states like Chhattisgarh
and Jharkhand.

It had also asked the Ministry "to strengthen clause on
competitive bidding for prospecting/mining leases".

States had opposed a provision of the bill, which says
that FCFS route will be adopted for granting LAPLs instead of
competitive bidding method.

The LAPLs allow companies to prospect for mineral
deposits in large tracts of land 5,000 sq km and above - for
eight years.

Mines Secretary S Vijay Kumar had earlier said "section
13 of the proposed bill says that wherever there is
mineralisation, the area will have to be notified and bid for.
That is the rulling provision."

Sources, however, said that Chattisgarh Governor had
written that as per the provision of the Bill, although states
have been vested powers to allocate mineral properties through
competitive bidding, such bids cannot be resorted to if
someone has applied for seeking mineral concessions before the
issuance of the notice for such a bidding.

PTI