In a bid to intensify its drive against illegal mining, the government plans to set up an independent sectoral regulator, possibly through an ordinance under the existing mines Act.

Besides, the government is set to make the registration of miners and traders mandatory under the Mineral Conservation Development Rules (MCDR).

“A ministerial panel constituted to examine the new mining legislation is of the view that we must have an independent regulatory Authority to check illegal mining,” a senior government official told PTI.

Government is examining how to put a National Mining Regulatory Authority in place and this could be through an ordinance in the existing Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act (MMDR Act), 1957.

The official said the new mining legislation which the government is working on will take time for enactment.

“We are trying that this Authority is set up in advance of the proposed new MMDR Act, which may be time consuming as the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted will meet again to give a final nod to it,” the official said, adding that the Bill will then be referred to the Cabinet.

The Authority will be vested with powers to investigate and prosecute those involved in illegal mining.

In another important move, the Mines Ministry is set to amend MCDR to make the registration of miners and traders mandatory to check illegal mining, the official added.

He said the Ministry has asked state governments to follow Goa and Orissa patterns to compare the total production of iron ore with export figures and initiate action against the guilty if the exports exceed production.

The Centre has asked all state governments to constitute high-level committees to crack down on illegal mining and intensify the drive against the menace. The issues will be discussed with the state governments in a meeting here on September 21.

The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has reached a consensus to give a go ahead to the draft mining bill, which seeks that miners share 26 per cent of profits with local people who get affected by their projects.

The new Bill seeks to expedite the grant of mineral concessions in a transparent manner and attracting big investments in the sector, besides checking illegal mining.

At present, there are not enough legal provisions for Central intervention in illegal mining in states. The magnitude of the problem is so great that as many as 42,000 cases of violation were detected in 11-mineral bearing states last year.

The country produced 226 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal, half of which was exported.

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