Naveen asks PM to modify MMDR Bill, 2011

Bhubaneswar: After opposing establishment of the NCTC, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday voiced his protest against certain provisions proposed in the MMDR (Mines and Mineral- Development and Regulation-Bill, 2011) on the ground that those would infringe into the federal rights of state governments.

"The proposed Bill, on the other hand, makes an attempt to trasnfer certain powers and functions now being exercised by states to the central government on its instrumentalities," Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Stating that regulation of mines and mineral development was basically a state subject, Patnaik said that the union government while making laws on mineral development should not give to itself the supervisory role over the states.

Welcoming setting up of National Regulatory Authority to perform as advisory, the state pointed out that it should in no way give direction to states or initiate legal investigation and lodge prosecution. "This encroaches upon the domain of state governments and not keeping with the federal structure envisaged in the Constitution," Patnaik said in the letter. Under Section 58 (1) of the Bill, the Central government will establish a national authority to be known as National Mining Regulatory Authority in relation to major minerals (other than coal).

The National Authority and its officers have powers to all records, material evidences or persons accused of contravening any of the provisions or committing any of the offences under the act, Patnaik mentioned in the letter adding that all proceedings before the National Authority in discharge of its functions will be deemed to be judicial proceedings.

National Authority will be deemed to be a civil court. Section 69 of the Bill, Patnaik pointed out that authorises the National Authority to entertain complaints recording commission of offences under the act, get them probed through its own investigating officers and institute prosecutions throughout the country. "Therefore, all these issues need to be re-looked and the relevant sections in the proposed Bill should be accordingly modified or altogether omitted," Patnaik said in the letter to the Prime Minister.