New Delhi: The Mines Ministry on Friday said it has sought Law Ministry's advice on how to go about granting leases till the proposed new mining Bill, having provisions for auctioning of mines, is passed.

"We have asked for legal opinion. We are awaiting advisory from the Law Ministry," Mines Secretary Viswapati Trivedi told reporters when asked on his department's strategy for granting leases in the absence of an auctioning mechanism.

Trivedi said the Law Ministry's advice was sought around 15-20 days back and its response was likely to come "anytime".

According to the current practice, states, as owners of minerals, grant mineral concessions after getting prior nod from the Centre for the same.

However, the existing practice called for a change after the Supreme Court's directive in February this year that all natural resources must be auctioned.

The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Bill 2011, which has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee after being introduced in Lok Sabha last December, has provisions for introducing a transparent mechanism for granting mining lease through the competitive bidding process.

"The Bill has proposed that where there is confirmed known mineralisation, auction should be the way. But where the mineralisation is not known, it is difficult to auction. There are provisions for both kinds of concessionary systems," Trivedi said.

Government auditor CAG recently rapped the government for its failure to timely implement competitive bidding mechanism for allocation of coal blocks, saying part of the Rs 1.86 lakh crore loss could have been partially tapped had the procedure been put in place earlier.

"Delay in introduction of the process of competitive bidding has rendered the existing process beneficial to the private companies. Audit has estimated financial gains to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore likely to accrue to private coal block allottees," the CAG had said in a report on allocation of coal blocks. PTI SSR


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