After going slow for many years, the Indian Government is displaying urgency in a new mining law. The current law, the Mining and Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957, dates to a period when mining of important minerals was reserved for the public sector. Policy has diametrically changed since then, with the Government actively courting large multinational mining companies. Expansion of mining is considered a key to maintaining the GDP and export growth.
However, there is a major obstacle to these plans – the opposition of communities around the mining projects in the mainly tribal mineral belt stretching across Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, eastern Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and northern Andhra Pradesh. There is increasing attention drawn to the negative effects of mining. Vedanta‘s crude attempt at mining bauxite in the tribal-populated and thickly forested Niyamgiri hills has received bad press even in the West. This accounts for the urgency in drafting new legislation.