A seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime will be introduced in the mineral sector as the government brings in commercial mining in the coal sector, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said this evening, unveiling the government's fourth tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Five hundred blocks of minerals will be auctioned "through open transparent mechanism" as a part of the production regime, she said.
A joint auction of bauxite and coal blocks would be done to enhance the aluminium industry's competitiveness, the Finance Minister said, adding that this will help the aluminium industry reduce electricity costs.
The distinction between captive and non-captive mines will also be removed to allow the transfer of mining leases and sale of surplus unused minerals. "Earlier someone would do the exploration, someone else would bid and someone else would do the production," Ms Sitharaman said, announcing a package of Rs 18,000 crores for "developing the infrastructure and addressing environmental concerns".
"Coal is a government monopoly. That government monopoly is being removed," Ms Sitharaman said, detailing reforms in the coal sector.
She also announced reforms for defence production, airspace management, maintenance, power distribution companies in union territories and space and atomic energy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a Rs 20 lakh crore package, amounting to 10 per cent of the gross domestic product, to support an economy battered by a sweeping weeks-long lockdown to fight the novel coronavirus.
Earlier this week, the government declared loan guarantees worth Rs 4.5 lakh crore to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), non-banking financial companies and power distribution firms access collateral-free loans from banks. The centre also announced a reduction in Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contribution for private employers by 2 per cent for three months, a move that increase take-home salaries.
Millions of migrants will be provided free food grains for the next two months, the government said on Thursday in the second tranche of announcements on the mega economic package for those hardest hit by coronavirus and weeks of lockdown.
Yesterday, the Finance Minister announced Rs 1 lakh crore to fund agriculture infrastructure projects.