The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as “The Act”) have been enacted by the Parliament of India. The Act is considered to be the central legislation in the sector of mining and minerals. The reason behind this is entry 23 of the state list in the seventh schedule contains “mineral regulation and development” which means that every state will have the sole power to legislate any law for the regulation and development of mineral.  In order to circumscribe the power of state government, entry 54 of the union list has been enacted by the Parliament which will give the Central government the authority to legislate a law relating to mines and minerals which would be binding upon the law of other state government.  Therefore, the Act is the chief legislation which has been enacted in 1957 and thereafter several amendments took place in order to adapt to the changing society.

The primary objective of this act is to regulate and develop mines and minerals under the control of the union, that is, the Union Government is the chief authority. Till date, no other act was enforced in regards to mines and minerals of India however, several amendments have taken place.

The Act consists of 33 sections and three schedules. The first schedule deals with specified minerals, second contains rates of royalty and third schedule specifies the rates of dead rent. The Act encompasses all minerals except mineral oils which consist of natural gas and petroleum as provided in section 3 of the Act. A unique fact about the Act is section 2 which provides declaration as to expediency of the Union control which reveals that India was in need of a legislation controlled and regulated by the Central Government.

Clause h(a) and h(b) of Section 3 have been inserted by Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 1999. These two clauses deal with Reconnaissance operation. Clause h (a) defines the term Reconnaissance operation which means any preliminary inspection of the minerals specified in first schedule should be through regional, aerial, geophysical or geological survey and geological mapping but should not be through pitting, trenching, drilling or sub – surface excavation. However, the drilling of bore holes can be done as specified by the Central Government.  Clause h (b) provides that the reconnaissance operation has to be done only after the permit granted by the specified authority.

The whole Act is divided into certain specified chapters. The first one deals with the general restrictions imposed on undertaking reconnaissance, prospecting and mining operations, that is, from section 4 to 9A. Section 10 to 12 deals with the procedure to obtain various permits for those lands which are vested in the Government. Sections 13 to 16 provide the rules for regulating the grant permit. Section 17 to 17A specifies the special powers of central government to undertake the operations mentioned in this act and section 18 and 18A provides for the development of minerals. The rest of the sections come under miscellaneous provisions.

In 1991, the Government liberalized the mining and minerals sector by enacting the first National Mineral Policy. After the liberalization, the foreign investment started in the mining sector. Thereafter, several amendments were made in order to adapt to the new regime but it was not able to achieve it. So during the meeting of National Mineral Policy 2008, this fact was discussed and thereafter in 2009 – 10, the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Bill was drafted which was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2011 and in 2015 the bill finally passed by the Lok Sabha. The approval repealed the Act of 1957. The new bill was drafted to make certain changes especially to make conducive environment for the foreign investors and to attract the better technology for this sector. The Government seeks to improve allocation of mineral resources by increasing transparency and to allocate a fair share to the government and to eliminate the delay in order to administer the resources.

Hence, Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 was repealed so as to adapt to the present environment by drafting a new legislation for it.

by Neha Dayal.