Draft mines law, illegal prospecting discussed by ministerial group

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) A meeting of a high-powered panel chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the draft of a new mining legislation and issues pertaining to illegal prospecting and export of the commodity remained inconclusive Thursday.

‘We discussed draft act. The minister for mines (B.K. Handique) made a detailed presentation. Some concerns were raised by members. But no specific decision has been taken,’ said Mines Secretary Santha Sheela Nair.

Since only some of the members could make their observations due to paucity of time, the group of ministers will meet again to discuss the issues further, the secretary said.

Among the issues discussed Thursday was the proposed Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 2010 that seeks to facilitate greater inflow of foreign investment into the industry.

This apart, the issue of illegal mining was also discussed, particularly against the backdrop of charges levelled by the opposition on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Karnataka for turning a blind eye to illegal mining in the state.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has said there was no proposal to drop the controversial Reddy brothers — G. Janardhana Reddy and G. Karunakara Reddy — from his ministry over allegations of illegal mining against them.

This apart, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh has said that the government must ban the export of iron ore and hike the export duty on the extracted mineral to help lower prices of finished products in the country.

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