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Displaced to get 26% mine profits

New Delhi, Sept. 17: A ministerial panel headed by the Union finance minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has cleared the draft mining Bill, which seeks to balance the rights of indigenous people and the need for development.

One of the provisions of the new Bill is that mining firms will have to share 26 per cent of their profits with the local population that has been affected by the project. Other provisions of the Bill also seek to bring more investment in the sector by reducing the time taken to allocate mines.

The new Bill on profit sharing will apply to all minerals except petroleum and natural gas.

“It is largely approved. All our suggestions have been by and large approved,” said the Union mines minister, Mr B. K. Handique, after the meeting.

He said that there will be one more meeting of the group of ministers, after which the Bill will be sent to the Cabinet for approval. The government is expected to introduce the Bill in the winter session of Parliament.

Land acquisition has become a major issue in India over the past few years. Indian and global firms such as Vedanta, Posco and Arcelor Mittal have faced protests from local people who would be displaced by large mining projects. Last week, Congress president and UPA chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, had called for appropriate compensation and alternative livelihood for people displaced by industrial projects.

Voicing concerns over land acquisition norms, Mrs Gandhi had favoured the Haryana model, where farmers are provided lucrative compensation in addition to annuity for 33 years.

The neglect of tribals, who are displaced for development of mines by the industry has been seen as one of the reason for the naxals gaining sympathy in these areas. Therefore, it has been felt that the local people should also be made stakeholders in such mines.

As per the new bill a District Mineral Foundation will be created and the locals will be paid out of it. Also in case a mining firm is not profitable, it will have to pay to this fund an amount equal to the royalty paid to the government.

~ Source : The Asian Age

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