THE MINERAL CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT RULES – 1988
These rules were made by the Central Government for the conservation and development of the minerals is exercise of the power conferred by Section 18 of the MM(D&R) Act, 1957. This rule has been completely recast in 1988 by incorporating provisions on submission of mining plans and protection of environment, by repealing the MCDR- 1958. However this rule applies to only metalliferous mines excluding atomic and minor minerals as is administered by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), under Ministry of Mines, Government of India.
There is no equivalent/ comparable Act/Rule for coal mines at present. Before nationalization of coal mines in 1972, the coal mines (conservation and safety) Act-1952 was being administered by Coal Board, which has been since abolished. Now after liberalization, GOI, has amended the the Coal Mines Nationalization Act and has allowed private sector coal mining and washery for captive power plant and industry. This may again revive the Coal Mines (Conservation and Safety) Act with suitable modifications, to also include protection of environment.
The salient features MCDR-1988 are as given below-
- Rule 3A of Chapter 1A dealing with the reconnaissance operations states that every person holding a reconnaissance permit shall submit within a period of sixty days from the date of execution of the reconnaissance permit, a scheme of reconnaissance operations indicating the manner in which he proposes to carry out reconnaissance operations in the area covered by the permit.
- Rule 4(2) of Chapter II dealing with the prospecting operations states that a prospecting scheme shall include-(a) baseline information of prevailing environmental conditions before the beginning of prospecting operations; and(b) steps proposed to be taken for protecting of environment which will include prevention and control of air and water pollution, progressive reclamation and rehabilitation of the land disturbed by the prospecting operations, a scheme for the plantation of trees, and such other measures as may be directed from time to time by the Controller General or the authorized officer for minimizing the adverse effect of prospecting operations on the environment.
- Rule 31 of Chapter V dealing with the protection of environment states that every holder of a prospecting license or a mining lease shall take all possible precautions for the protection of environment and control of pollution while conducting prospecting, mining, beneficiation or metallurgical operations in the area.
- Rule 32 of Chapter V dealing with the removal and utilization of top-soil directs that every holder of a prospecting license or a mining lease shall, wherever top-soil exists and is to be excavated for prospecting or mining operations, remove it separately. The top-soil so removed shall be utilized for restoration or rehabilitation of land which is no longer required for prospecting or mining operations or for stabilizing or landscaping the external dumps. Whenever the top-soil cannot be utilized concurrently, it shall be stored separately for future use.
- Rule 33 of Chapter V related to storage of over burden, waste rock, etc. lays down the following conditions-
* Every holder of a prospecting license or a mining lease shall take steps so that the overburden, waste rock, rejects and fines generated during prospecting and mining operations or tailings, slimes and fines produced during sizing, sorting and beneficiation or metallurgical operations shall be stored in separate dumps.
* The dumps shall be properly secured to prevent escape of material therefrom in harmful quantities which may cause degradation of environment and to prevent causation of floods.
* The site for the dumps, tailing or slimes shall be selected as for as possible on impervious ground to ensure minimum leaching effects due to precipitation.
* Wherever possible, the waste rock, overburden, etc. shall be back-filled into the mine excavations with a view to restoring the land to its original use as far as possible.
* Wherever back-filling of waste rock in the area excavated during mining operations is not feasible, the waste dumps shall be suitably terraced and stabilized through vegetation or otherwise.
* The fines, rejects or tailing from mine, beneficiation or metallurgical plants shall be deposited and disposed in a specially prepared tailings disposal area such that they are not allowed to flow away and cause land degradation or damage to agriculture field, pollution of surface water bodies and ground water or cause floods.
- Rule 34 of Chapter V dealing with reclamation and rehabilitation of lands states that every holder of prospecting license or mining lease shall undertake the phased restoration, reclamation, and rehabilitation of lands affected by prospecting or mining operations and shall complete this work before the conclusion of such operations and the abandonment of the prospect or mine.
- Rule 35 of Chapter V outlining precautions against ground vibrations states that whenever any damage to public building or monuments is apprehended due to their proximity to the mining lease area, scientific investigations shall be carried out by the holder of mining lease so as ;to keep the ground vibrations caused by blasting operations within safe limit.
- Rule 36 of Chapter V states that stopping in underground mines shall be so carried out as to keep surface subsidence under control.
- Rule 37 of Chapter V outlines the precautions against air pollution and states that sir pollution due to fines, dust, smoke or gaseous emissions during prospecting, mining, beneficiation or metallurgical operations and related activities shall be controlled and kept within ‘Permissible Limits’ specified under various environmental laws of the country by the holder of prospecting license or a mining lease.
- Rule 38 of Chapter V dealing with discharge of toxic liquid states every holder of prospecting license or a mining lease shall take all possible precautions to prevent or reduce the discharge of toxic and objectionable liquid effluents from mine, workshop, beneficiation or metallurgical plants, tailing ponds, into surface water bodies, ground water aquifer and useable lands, to a minimum. These effluents shall be suitably treated, if required, to conform to the standards laid down in this regard.
- Rule 39 of Chapter V outlines the precautions against noise and states that the noise arising out of prospecting, mining, beneficiation or metallurgical operations shall bed abated or controlled by the holder of prospecting license or a mining lease at the source so as to keep it within the permissible limit.
- Rule 40 of Chapter V states that the standards and permissible limits of all the pollutants, toxins and noise referred to in Rules 37 to 39 shall be those notified by the concerned authorities under the provisions of the relevant statutes from time to time.Rule 40 of Chapter V dealing with restoration of flora states that every holder of prospecting license or a mining lease shall carry out prospecting or mining operations, as the case may be, in such a manner so as to cause least damage to the flora of the area held under prospecting license or mining lease and the nearby area. Every holder of prospecting license or mining lease shall-
# Take immediate measures for planting in the same area or any other area selected by the Controller General or the authorized officer not less than twice the number of trees destroyed by reason of any prospecting or mining operations;
# Look after them during the subsistence of license/lease after which these trees shall be handed over to the state Forest Department or any other authority as may be nominated by the Controller General or the authorized officer; and
# Restore to the extent possible, other flora destroyed by prospecting or mining operations.