Rajya Sabha to take up mines, coal bills today

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha will take up the mines and minerals bill and the coal mines bill for passage today, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday after repeated adjournments of the house following a standoff between the opposition and treasury benches.

Naidu said the house will take up the mines and minerals bill in the morning followed by the coal mines bill.

The standoff occurred during discussion on the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Amendment Bill) 2015 as the Communist Party of India-Marxist members demanded that it should be sent back to the select committee.

Opposition members said views of states should also be taken and the bill should be sent back to the select committee.

The Congress had earlier signalled its opposition to the mines and minerals bill.

The party, which has been fiercely critical of the Narendra Modi government over the land bill, is apparently not keen to make it easy for the government in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had walked with other opposition leaders to President Pranab Mukherjee to convey the party’s strong opposition on the land bill. The party appears to be coordinating its moves with other opposition parties on several other issues.

The standoff over the mines and minerals bill led to several adjournments with Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien finally adjourning the house for the day a little before 9 p.m.

Before the house was adjourned, Naidu said there was a broad understanding that the mines and minerals bill will be taken up on Friday morning followed by the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015.

He said private members business, which is usually taken up on Friday, could be deferred to another day.

Both the bills, which were sent to the select committees, were in Thursday’s list of business of the Rajya Sabha.

The government is keen to pass the two bills as they have to replace ordinances brought during the inter-session period.

It is also looking at the possibility of extending the session by a few days if the two bills are not passed by parliament on Friday.

The first half of the budget session is supposed to end on Friday with the two houses meeting again April 20 after a month-long break.

The government is also looking at the possibility of proroguing at least one house to re-promulgate the land bill ordinance.

The government is not likely to bring the land bill in the Rajya Sabha in the first half of the budget session. The bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.