New Delhi: Irked over slow pace of disposal of mines concessions, the Centre has asked the states to clear over 60,000 applications without delays. "A huge 63,395 mineral concession applications are pending with Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. We have asked these states to clear the applications within stipulated time-frame," a Mines Ministry official said.
The Ministry has already asked these states to apply provisions of the Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act (MMDR Act) to dispose of cases. The official said that it was a matter of concern that of the total applications, 42,861 were pending for mining leases (ML), 19,891 for prospecting licenses (PL) and 643 for reconnaissance permits (RP) with these states.
As per the rules, there are provisions for disposal of RP within six months; PL within nine months and ML within 12 months. The ML is granted for undertaking operations for extracting minerals while PL is granted for undertaking operations for purpose of exploring. RP, on the other hand is granted for preliminary prospecting of a mineral through regional, aerial and geophysical surveys.
The Centre has also asked the states to refer to a Supreme Court order of September 2010, known as Sandur case, "which clearly explains the applicability of different provisions of the MMDR Act, 1957 in processing mineral concession proposals" for virgin areas, previously held areas, and non-notified areas.
Also, it said there is considerable delay on the part of the state governments in sending proposals for prior approval of the central government in respect of virgin areas. Besides, "notifications inviting applications for grant of concessions are kept open-ended, which does not help their timely processing and disposal," it said. As per sources, clearances to leases have slowed down due to various reasons, including a spurt in illegal mining cases with states reluctant in granting new leases.
About 99,000 cases of illegal mining were reported in 20 states in 2012-13. In 2011-12, the number of cases stood at about 96,000 while the same were recorded at about 78,000 in 2010-11.