THE MINES AND MINERALS (DEVELOPMENT AND REGULATION) ACT – 1957
The Act regulates the development of minerals in the country. It was amended in 1986, 1994 and 1999 to incorporate the provisions of environmental protection and management in the mines and to bring about the concept scientific mining. These amendments also gave a greater autonomy to State Governments by completely withdrawing regulatory power in case of minor minerals and also reducing the list of the first schedule minerals for which permission from the Central Government is necessary before granting or renewal of prospecting (PL) license or mining lease (ML). The salient features of the Act are as given below-
- Section 3 of the Act defines minerals, minerals oils, mining lease, mining operations, minor minerals, prospecting license, prospecting operations, reconnaissance operations, reconnaissance permit, etc.
- Section 4 of the Act deals with termination of PL or ML. It lays down the general restrictions for undertaking reconnaissance, prospecting and mining operations under license or lease. Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL), Geological Survey of India (GSI), Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and the Directorates of Geology and Mining of the State Governments are exempted from the purview of the Act.
- Section 4 A(1) and 4 A(2) provide for termination of PL/ML by the Central Government and under sub-para 2 of para 4A by the State Governments, if in their opinion it is expedient in the interest of preservation of natural environment, prevention of pollution, conservation of mineral resources, safety in mines, and other reasons given in the Act.
- Section 6 defines the maximum area for which a reconnaissance permit, PL or ML may be granted. The Central Government, if of the opinion that it is in the interest of any mineral, may grant reconnaissance permit, PL or ML in respect of any area which not compact or contiguous.
- Sections 13 to 16 deal with the rules for regulating the grant of reconnaissance permit, PL or ML. Sub-section 2 of Section 13 lists the matters that are covered by rules framed by the Central Government. These matters include the manner in which rehabilitation of flora and other vegetation shall be made in the same area or in any other area selected by the Central Government. Section 15(1)A(i) includes the manner in which the rehabilitation of flora and other vegetation shall be made in the same area or in any other area selected by the State Government.
- Section 18(1) delegates the powers to the Central Government to frame rules for major minerals for conservation and systematic development of minerals and for the protection of environment by preventing or controlling any pollution which may be caused by prospecting and mining operations. Section 18(2) states that the rules may provide for all or any of the following matters;
(k) the disposal or discharge of waste slime or tailing arising from any mining or metallurgical operation carried out in a mine, and
(l) the manner in which and the authority by which directions may be issued to the owners of any mine to do or refrain from doing certain things in the interest of conservation or systematic development of minerals or for the protection of environment by preventing or controlling pollution which may be caused by prospecting or mining operations.
- Section 21 outlines the penalties as outlined below.
- Section 21(1) states that whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (1A) of section 4 shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees or with both.
(2) Contravention of any rule made under this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both and in the case of continuing contravention with an additional fine which may extend to five hundred rupees for every day during which such contravention continues after conviction for the first such contravention.