On January 10, 2020, a new section – section 8B related to the provision for transfer of statutory clearances was inserted in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (67 of 1957) (hereinafter referred to as MMDR Act). The said insertion has been done vide the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020 (2 of 2020).
The newly added sub-section (2) of section 8B of the MMDR Act provides that a successful bidder of mining leases expiring under the provisions of sub-sections (5) and (6) of section 8A and selected through auction (as per the procedure provided under this Act and the rules made thereunder) shall be deemed to have acquired all valid rights, approvals, clearances, licences and the like vested with the previous lessee for a period of two years. The sub-section (3) of section 8B of the MMDR Act provides that it shall be lawful for the new lessee to continue mining operations on the land, in which mining operations were being carried out by the previous lessee, for a period of two years from the date of commencement of the new lease.
Moreover, in pursuance of the aforesaid amendment to the MMDR Act, the Central Government found it appropriate to amend the erstwhile Ministry of Environment and Forests' Notification number S.O. 1533 (E) dated the 14th September, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as the EIA Notification, 2006) to align the same with new Section 8B of the MMDR Act, 1957. In this regard, the EIA Notification, 2006 has also been amended. Firstly, it has been provided that the successful bidder of the mining leases expiring under the provisions of sub-sections (5) and (6) of section 8A of the MMDR Act, 1957 (67 of 1957) shall be deemed to have acquired valid prior environmental clearance vested with the previous lessee for a period of two years, from the date of commencement of new lease and it shall be lawful for the new lessee to continue mining operations for a period of two years from the date of commencement of new lease or till the new lessee obtains a fresh environmental clearance, whichever is earlier. However, the successful bidder has to apply and obtain prior environmental clearance within a period of two years from the date of grant of new lease, for continuing operations beyond the said period of 2 years.
Secondly, the Schedule, against the item 1(a), in the column (5), after clause (2) of the Note has been amended where it has been provided that evacuation or removal and transportation of already mined out material lying within the mining leases expiring under the provisions of the MMDR Act, 1957, by the previous lessee, after the expiry of the said lease, shall not form the part of the mining capacity so permitted to the successful bidder. Thirdly, the Appendix-IX has also been substituted where certain category of works such as extraction of ordinary clay or sand by manual mining by the kumhars (potter) to prepare earthen pots, lamp, toys, etc. as per their customs; extraction of ordinary clay or sand by manual mining by earthen tile makers who prepare earthen tiles and others shall not require prior environmental clearance.
Thus, the above stated amendments in the MMDR Act and consequently in the EIA Notification of 2006 have paved way for a more efficient and a transparent regulatory mechanism for the mining industry and it is expected that the same will go a long away in creating a robust mechanism for fulfilling the objectives with which these amendments have been envisioned by the legislature.
Originally published April 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.