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RS passes Mines Bill, overcoming procedural wrangles

Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: After much controversy and procedural wrangles, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, was passed by the Rajya Sabha today with all parties, barring Congress and the Left, supporting it.

JD-U members walked out before the voting saying they did not want to be part of the procedure.

The Bill was passed by 117 members voting in favour and 69 against it, after Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar moved it for passage.

The House earlier saw a lot of discussion on a motion moved by P Rajeeve of CPI(M), which sought that the measure be re-sent to the Select Committee as it had not taken the views of all stakeholders including state governments.

This amendment was voted out after a division, with parties like TMC, NCP, SP, BSP, BJD, AIADMK, DMK and JMM, besides allies Shiv Sena and SAD supporting the government.

The rejection of the motion by 112 votes against and 68 in favour, paved the way for the House to take up the Bill for voting.

During the short debate on Rajeeve’s motion, members voiced concern over the plight of tribals living in the mining areas and issues relating to their rehabilitation.

Some members also pointed out that the bill could fail the legal test and be struck down by courts as it seeks to impinge on the rights of states, which were not consulted by the Select Committee looking into the bill.

The bill further to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, as passed by Lok Sabha and as reported by the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, would now be sent back to Lok Sabha before it becomes a law.

The Select Committee to which the bill was referred to by the Rajya Sabha brought in one amendment in it and passed it.

Incidently when Deputy Chairman P J Kurien put the motion to pass the bill to voice vote, he inadvertently announced “I think the Noes have it” and soon announced division of votes, to which the Left and Congress members objected.

To this, Kurien said he had already called for a division which would take care of the actual numbers in favour or against the bill.

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