Kerala to oppose amendment curtailing state’s autonomy over beach sand minerals

MK Suresh

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Representative Image / Photo: Mathrubhumi Library

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala government has decided to oppose the union government’s amendments to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 or MMDR ACT, which supposedly curtails the state’s autonomy over beach sand minerals. Apparently, the union government’s move is aimed at entertaining private players for the mining activities on such beaches.

To take hold of the powers vested with the states, the union government has proposed to exclude eight out of 12 groups of minerals from the Part B of the First Schedule of the MMDR Act. The eight will be included in part D of the Schedule of MMDR Act, which will be tagged as critical and strategic minerals. The change will affect the state government's say over minerals including monazite, ilmenite, zircon, rutile and sillimanite.

It may be noted that as per the existing law, atomic minerals can be mined by government organisations. The new amendments bring change to this mandate. If the contentious amendments get through, the union government can permit private players to extract atomic minerals too.

During VS Achuthanandan's regime, there was a proposal to launch an integrated enterprise for mineral sand mining, thus facilitating privatisation. However, taking into consideration the opposition from CM himself, the policy document having the proposal was presented before the Governor by omitting the privatisation plan. Even the UDF government that came to power had pushed for privatisation. Later, both fronts decided to limit mining to public sector undertakings.

Meanwhile, the union government came up with the amendment on May 25. It is learnt that the state government will intimate its dissent by June 15.

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