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Govt paves way to introduce Mines Act amendment Bill

The Cabinet on Thursday cleared the path for introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Mines Act, 1952, with respect to the laws relating to regulation of work and welfare of people employed in mines.

The government also cleared Rs 404 crore and an additional amount of Rs 996 crore — after adjustment of Rs 404 crore from the requirement of Rs 1,400 crore — for meeting pending interest subvention claims of banks, as requested by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The interest subvention scheme was introduced in July 2007 to help exporters offset the losses on account of the economic global recession.

The amendments in the Mines Act envisage extending the Act to the whole of India and provide for appointment of officials, besides the employer’s agent, in the mines; and increase penalties provided in various sections, among other amendments.

The Mines Act, last amended in 1983, provides for health, safety, and well being of people employed in mines. The Act regulates the working condition and environment in mines with a view to making work more humane and providing measures to prevent accidents and occupational diseases. It also contains provisions of basic amenities for mine workers and prescribes a system of inspection of mines for enforcement of the legislation.

The Cabinet also approved the creation of a Hospitality Development and Promotion Board (HDFB) for approving and facilitating hotel projects. The main function would be to monitor and facilitate the clearance and approval of hotel projects — both at the Central and state level. It would be a single point for receiving applications for various clearances. For fast-track approval and clearances of hotel project proposals, in a time-bound manner, it will review policies to encourage the growth of hospitality infrastructure in the country.

The Cabinet also revised the norms for financial assistance for post-matric scholarships for students of scheduled castes. The parental annual income ceiling for eligibility has been enhanced from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh a year. The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs also approved the revision in the maintenance and other allowances, besides regrouping of courses.

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