New Delhi: With the Narendra Modi government completing two years in office, Union Minister for Steel and Mines Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday said the development that took place under Modiji's leadership in the past two years had not been achieved by any previous government in that stipulated time.
"On May 14, 2014, the Narendra Modi government had taken oath of office. There were many challenges and opportunities before Modiji. He dealt with challenges successfully and utilised every opportunities. I understand the development that took place under Modiji's leadership in the past two years had not been achieved by any previous government," Tomar told ANI.
Talking about achievements of the mining department in the past two years, Tomar said, "When we had formed the government, we faced various challenges as to how to bring transparency in the mining department; how to begin mining; how to make mining start contributing to the GDP of the country; how to check illegal mining; how to increase production; how mines-based industries work smoothly and many others."
"We know what happened before 2014, had even forced the Supreme Court to interfere. Besides, the Shah Commission also raised many questions. The mining department was facing such difficulties at that time. I am happy that under the leadership of Modiji we amended the Mines Act, and after that it became clear that mines would not be allocated without auction," he said, while taking about the measures taken by the government to fill the lacunae in the existing system for a greater transparency.
"Today, we can say that mines can be allocated easily, but there is no possibility of corruption, nepotism and favouritism in the allocation. The method is fully transparent, and is being used for allocating mines," Tomar added.
The second major concern, he said, was of illegal mining. "Earlier, people who were arrested for illegal mining were released after the payment of a Rs. 25,000 fine. Now, we have toughened the rules. We have increased the period of imprisonment from two to five years and have also increased the amount of fine from Rs. 25,000 to Rs.5 lakh per hectare," said Tomar elaborating on the action taken by the government.
Besides, when the NDA government was formed, the state governments used to get a royalty of Rs. 9,000 crore from mining, which was increased to over Rs. 13,000 crore, he said.
"As far as auctioning of mines are concerned," he said, "there are 47 mines in the country as of now, of which the states have issued auction notice. Six mines have been auctioned in Chhattisgarh Jharkhand and Odisha. The state government have earned Rs.18,946 crore through auction."
Maintaining that mining affects areas and people as well, Tomar said, "therefore, we have made a provision of District Mineral Foundation in the Act, under which 30 percent of the royalty amount will be deposited with the foundation, which will be around Rs. 6,000 crore in the country and will be used for the affected people."
He further said, "For judicious use of the money, the Centre has also issued a guideline to the state governments and it is our effort that this money should bring about changes in the lifestyle of the people living in those areas through education, healthcare, drinking water etc. this is a very revolutionary step taken by the Modi government."