For around 200 mining leases, India’s ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has ruled out granting environment clearance (EC) where licences were granted before the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 (MMDR) came into effect.
The Act allowed for grant of mineral concessions through auctions to bring transparency and remove discretion. As per reports, under the provisions of the environment protection Act (EPA) and rules thereof, there is no prospect of granting any sort of general or conditional or provisional EC by the environment division for disposal of mining leases where prospecting licences or reconnaissance permits were issued before MMDR (Amendment) Act, 2015 came into force.
Currently, mining contributes around 2-2.5 per cent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) with the government projecting a GDP growth of 7-7.75 per cent for the current financial year. The government wants to increase the share of mining sector in the country’s GDP by one percentage point over the next three to four years. There are around 200 pending cases where the last date of execution of lease deed is January 2017.
If a letter of intent (by whatever name called) has been issued by the state government to grant a mining lease, before the commencement of the MMDR, 2015, the mining lease shall be granted subject to fulfilment of the conditions of the previous approval or of the letter of intent within a period of two years from the date of commencement of the said Act, as per reports.
Reports elaborated that the experts are of the opinion that these mining leases may be auctioned as clearances are still not in place. For all these pending mining leases, there was a condition precedent that all necessary approvals will be required before a cut-off date of January 2017. Amidst the current circumstances, the most likely scenario is that all these leases will go under auction,