The Coal Ministry on Thursday said it has amended the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, (MCR) to decriminalise its provisions. MCR regulates application and grant of mineral concessions such as reconnaissance permit, prospecting licence, and mining lease.

These concessions are pre-requisites for development and operationalisation of mines entailing several compliances on the part of businesses, the Ministry said in a statement.

“The Government has been taking initiatives to reduce compliances for business and citizens. To further promote and boost the government’s ‘Ease of doing business’ policy, the amendment has decriminalised 68 provisions, whereas penalty has been reduced for 10 provisions,” it added.

An express provision has been introduced for adjustment of additional or shortfall royalty. Further, the rate of penal interest on delayed payment of rent, royalty, fee, or other sums due to the government, has been reduced to 12 from 24 per cent.

It is expected that these provisions will afford much-required economic relaxations in the coal mining sector.

In July this year, the Ministry reviewed penal provisions in MCR to identify violations, which could either be decriminalised and violations for which the penalty can be reduced. Accordingly, it had prepared the draft Mineral Concession (Amendment) Rules, 2022.

The Coal Ministry has taken initiatives to revisit old laws with the aim to improve efficiency, ease of doing business and to opening up the coal sector, which would result in improving domestic coal production and reducing imports. In the present scenarior, public sector companies dominate in both exploration and mining of coal.

The age old MCR, 1960 governed many aspects of coal mining and needed amendment in furthering reforms and also due to several legislations coming into existence, such as those related to the environment and forest conservation.