BJD votes for changes in MMDR Bill in RS

New Delhi: Despite strong opposition from Congress and Left parties, the BJP government at the Centre today managed to pass the Bill to amend the Mines and Minerals (D) Act in Rajya Sabha as Biju Janta Dal (BJD), Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) voted in favour of it.

Participating in the debate, BJD member Dilip Kumar Tirkey supported the Bill saying it would help introduce a transparent system for allocation of mines while pointing out that the Centre should not take over the States’ powers.

However, he claimed that some clauses that took away powers of the States which was “against the spirit of federalism”, have been deleted. He hoped that the States’ concerns would be addressed.

The Bill was passed with two amendments approved by a select panel and will now go back to the Lok Sabha for getting its approval again.

Notably, the Bill got an approval from Rajya Sabha despite the fact that the government is in a minority in the Upper House.
Odisha Mines minister Prafulla Mallick told mediapersons, “We were not opposing the MMDR Act as we have been supporting auction of mines. However, we wanted different arrangement for end-users.”

Replying to a query whether there is a change in BJD’s view point on the Bill, he said, “We wanted more revenue for the State and discussions with the Centre are going on regarding this. There is no change in our stance.”

Meanwhile, Congress leader Narasingh Mishra said, “BJD had been opposing some important provisions of the mines law. Now, as the BJD has supported the Bill, the State’s rights on mines and minerals will be damaged.”

“Though the State government is the owner of the mines under its jurisdiction, it won’t have any control over the mines now as per the provision of the Bill. The State’s interest is sacrificed for the sake of the interest of chief minister Naveen Patnaik,” he alleged.

“The present stance of BJD is opposite to its earlier position. Prime minister Narendra Modi is helping Naveen personally, and this development is an example of that. Though I have not any proof on this right now, circumstantial evidence points fingers in that direction,” Mishra added.