Friday, June 27, 2008

Law ministry says draft coal policy contradicts some mining rules

Amendment of rules before approving policy will take too much time, say officials.

NewAge, June 27, 2008. Dhaka, Bangladesh

The law ministry has pointed out that some sections of the draft coal policy would contradict the existing Mines and Mineral Rules 1968 and suggested amendment of the rules before approving the policy.

A representative of the law ministry made the observation at an inter-ministry meeting on the draft coal policy, chaired by energy secretary Mohammad Mohsin at the Energy Division on Thursday, said sources present at the meeting.
 They said that along with other provisions of the draft coal policy, the awarding of licences and royalty fixation method contradicted the Mines and Minerals Rules.

As per the proposed coal policy, licences for exploration or extraction from any coal-field will be awarded through open tenders, whereas the existing rules say that the licences would be awarded on first-come-first-served basis, said sources.

On royalty rate issue, the mining rules said that the royalty on coal extraction would be 6 per cent for open-pit mines and 5 per cent for underground mines, whereas the policy says that a proposed coal sector development committee will fix the royalty.

When contacted, Mohsin told New Age that they have received the comments of the concerned ministries on the draft coal policy. ‘The law ministry has commented that the draft coal policy could be formulated as a policy or could be made an Act. The division will go with the policy and send it to the council of advisers, incorporating the opinions of different ministries, for approval,’ he said.

Regarding the draft coal policy’s sections that contradict the rules, sources in the Energy Division said that in the draft it is written that those sections would come into effect subject to the revision of the rules. ‘It is not necessary to amend the rules first. If the government approves the coal policy, the mining rules will have to be amended to incorporate the issues,’ said a source.

If the government decides to amend the mining rules before enactment of the coal policy, it will take months before any decision can be taken on the coal policy, which was initiated in late 2005.
 Representatives of the forest and environment, agriculture and land ministries, Power Division and the National Board of Revenue were present at the meeting, along with others.

Although the Energy Division forwarded the draft to the concerned ministries for getting their written opinions on the policy by June 24, none of the ministries submitted any opinion till Thursday.