India passed a new mining law - the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) (Amendment) Bill (MMDR) - with 117 votes in favour. 69 Members of Parliament voted against and two Member abstained.
The bill was first introduced in November 2015, when it was opened up to public inputs and feedback.The PRS Legislative Research Portal allows people to read and review the bill in its entirety, and tracks how the bill passed through the different stages of approval in parliament.
The new law replaces the 1957 Mining Act and aims to render the mining sector more profitable by introducing the auctioning of blocks for prospecting. Rules and regulations for these auctions will be set by the state; so far, just under 200 blocks have been identified for auction. A 'District Mineral Foundation' will capture part of those resources to "address the grievances of the people affected by mining, with a contribution not exceeding a third of the royalty rate".
Opponents of the law criticise the new legislation because it 'favours mines of people and the environment', signalling a missed opportunity for sustainble practices.
Interestingly, opponents point to the lack of time given to the Select Committee to review the law and its implications. A more thorough analysis of these amendments and their impacts - economic, social and environmental - was called for, they claim. The divisive vote would suggest that a significant number of MPs agree with these objections, and would have liked to see India's extractive industries sector take a different turn.