The government on Wednesday said the mines and minerals sector is a major employer in rural areas and its role as an essential service has been acknowledged during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Just like agriculture, this sector (mines and mineral sector) gives employment to the people in rural areas, to the people in the interior parts of India," Mines Secretary Anil Kumar Jain said during FIMI's 54th Annual General Meeting.
He added that the mineral sector's role as an essential service has been acknowledged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jain added that the importance of the sector is well appreciated and "when I see mining sector today, I see lots of development, lots of growth".
Referring to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 2015, he said that it is a forward-looking law.
On the proposed reforms in the mines and mineral sector, Jain said "reforms is an ongoing process".
Recently, the mines ministry sought suggestions from the general public, mining industry and other stakeholders on the proposed reforms in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
Under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme, the Centre in May announced enhancing private investments in the mineral sector and bringing in other reform measures.
The proposals include increasing mineral production and employment generation by redefining the norms of exploration for auction of mineral blocks and ensuring seamless transition from exploration to production.
They also include resolving legacy issues to move towards an auction-only regime for allocation of mineral resources, removing the distinction between captive and non-captive mines, developing a transparent National Mineral Index, and clarifying the definition of illegal mining.
Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) President Sunil Duggal said the mining sector is already passing through a difficult phase and the impact of COVID-19 has now further given a major jolt to mining activities.
Mining, being a major economic activity, generates employment in neighbourhood and tribal areas. The mining sector has the potential to create total employment for about five crore jobs by 2025. Being the source of raw materials for Indian industries and society, mining is crucial for both 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' as well as for India to become a USD 5-trillion economy by 2024.
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