NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A leading environmental group has slammed the Indian government for failing to get parliamentary approval for a bill that could have helped clean up the corruption-ridden mining sector and ensure mining firms shared their vast profits with local communities.

The Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill 2011 - which has been awaiting discussion by lawmakers since last year - will lapse because the government did not revive it in time, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.

Parliament is currently holding its last session before a general election due by May, but protests by unruly lawmakers over a variety of issues have made it hard for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government to pass any legislation.

The government has tabled 39 bills to be approved before the national assembly adjourns on February 21. The list did not include the MMDR Bill.

"For more than five years, communities and civil society along with government and industry representatives have worked on this Bill to bring in much-needed reforms in the legal and institutional structure of the sector," CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"But with the lapse of the Bill, it will be back to business as usual for the mining sector," he added.

India's mining sector has among the weakest regulations and oversight and is the source of some of the country's biggest corruption scandals. In 2012, for example, a leaked report by the federal auditor accused the Congress-led coalition government of losing $211 billion in potential revenues by allocating coal mines too cheaply.

Source: Reuters - view full article