Centre amends licence rule to check illegal mining



New Delhi: To control the menace of illegal mining, the Centre has amended the Mineral Concession Rules (MCR) and have vested powers with the state governments to cancel licences if a person holding the lease is convicted of carrying out unauthorised mining.

"If the lessee holding the mining lease or a licencee holding a prospecting licence, is convicted of illegal mining and there are no interim orders of any court of law suspending the operation of the order ... The state government may ... cancel such prospecting license and forfeit whole or part of the security deposit," the Mines Ministry said.

Amending the MCR, the Mines Ministry in a notification said that the state governments, prior to cancelling the licence, should give opportunity to the applicant to explain his stance.

Amending another provision in the MCR, the Ministry in its notification dated July 26 said the state government may also "refuse to renew" mining lease in the event of an applicant for renewal of mining lease is convicted of illegal mining.

Besides, the Centre has also inserted a clause in the MCR explaining "illegal mining".

"Illegal mining means any reconnaissance or prospecting or mining operation undertaken by any person or a company in any area without holding a reconnaissance permit or a prospecting licence, or as the case me, a mining lease, as required under ... The Act," it said.

The Centre has resorted to a multi-pronged strategy including setting up of an Inquiry Commission and asking states to make action plans to curb illegal mining.

The country has witnessed a spurt in illegal mining with 47,254 cases recorded in January-September 2011 period while the number of such cases in 2010 was 73,115 and in 2009 was 41,578.

As per the official data, it has realised a fine to the tune of Rs 632 crore from illegal miners besides seizing 1,90,000 vehicles used in them.

The Centre had constituted special task forces for inspection of mines in endemic areas, which has conducted inspections in a total of 454 mines in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Gujarat and suspended 155 mines.

Besides, it has set up Justice M B Shah Inquiry Commission for Illegal Mining to inquire into the nature and extent of mining and trade and transportation done illegally and has extended its tenure till 2013.

PTI