Centre mulls relaxing green norms

December 04, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 24, 2016 01:48 pm IST

The Centre has set a target to complete the aerial geo-physical surveys of the entire country within three years.

The steps will require a change in a Defence Ministry order that bars sharing of data for 40 per cent of India’s landmass.

The tardy clearance from the Ministries of Environment and Defence for exploration is hindering the process, and the Geological Survey of India has been covered 18 per cent of the country so far.

During 2001-2015, when firms were granted 405 reconnaissance permits for exploration, just 15 of these permits translated into a mining lease or prospecting licence, Mr. Kumar said.

“The progress was dismal in the previous exploration regime as procedural delays led to forest and aviation-related clearances taking several years. The Defence Ministry restricts sharing of data with the public for nearly 40 per cent of the area,” he said.

To attract more private investment into exploration, the government is exploring three models which include reserving a block where minerals are discovered for the public sector and offering the private explorer, who made the discovery the right of first refusal, for forming a mining joint venture with the public sector entity.

“Exploration firms could also be reimbursed for their investments with an attractive rate of return, by the mining firm that eventually operates the mine they discover,” Mr. Kumar said.

The third model proposed for private exploration is granting non-exclusive permits and discovered blocks are put on auction with a provision for royalties or production-sharing compensation for the explorer.

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