New Delhi: The Law Ministry has favoured more
power to the Centre in dealing with illegal mining, an area
hitherto falling under the states domain.
The ministry made this suggestion on the draft mining
legislation sent to it by the Mines Ministry for vetting.
"Law Ministry, which has vetted the Mines and Minerals
(Development and Regulation) Act 2010, is in favour of
providing more teeth to the Central government (on dealing
with the problem of illegal mining)," a top official in the
Ministry of Mines said.
The new proposal for empowering the Centre comes in the
face of Karnataka government declining suggestion for a CBI
probe into allegations of illegal mining by people including
ministers Reddy Brothers in the state.
"It (Law Ministry) has suggested providing additional
powers to the Centre to give specific directions to the states
in cases where larger threat to national security is involved,
after apprehensions that illegal money from mining is used for
money laundering, purchase of drugs and arms besides funding
insurgency," the official said.
At present there are not enough legal provisions for
central intervention in illegal mining in states, while
the magnitude of problem is such that last year about 42,000
cases had been detected in 11-mineral bearing states.
The official said that the ministry in a letter to the
Home Ministry had also sought investigations by National
Investigation Agency (NIA) in cases where threat to internal
security was involved. The ministry`s proposal is being
examined by the Home Ministry, the official added.
The official added that in an earlier meeting at the
Prime Minister`s office it was agreed to have new provisions
that would empower the Centre to direct state governments in
determining mining leases, especially where country`s internal
security was involved.
Meanwhile, updating the new draft, the Mines Ministry has
incorporated a provision of the Centre issuing directions to
states for detection, prevention and prosecution of cases of
illegal mining, and to frame rules for the purpose.
Also making a provision for establishment of a national
and state mineral fund and audit, it has provided for the
provision to "reward whistle-blowers on illegal mining."