Rajya Sabha passes three bills amid opposition walkout over Manipur issue

New Delhi: Amid persisting logjam between government and the opposition parties over Manipur violence, the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 and also the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023.

As Lok Sabha has already passed all the three Bills they would now be sent for President’s assent.

As members of the opposition parties staged a walkout, the bills were passed in their absence by voice vote.

While Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023 seeks to encourage private sector in the exploration of critical and deep-seated minerals, the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 exempts certain types of land from the purview of the forest conservation law including land within 100 kilometers of the country’s border needed for national security projects and road or rail links for local habitation.

Replying to the discussion on Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi said that the Bill will go a long way in achieving net zero emission by 2070.

“We will give exploration licenses in a transparent manner through auction system. As a result of this, we will be able to do exploration of critical minerals like lithium and gold at a larger scale,” the Minister said.

Replying to the discussion on Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, Union Environment and Forest Minister Bhupender Yadav said that the Bill exempts certain types of lands such as forest lands for providing connectivity to local habitations and road side amenities up to a maximum size of 0.10 hectares.

Commenting on passing on the Bill, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh said,” The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 that makes several far-reaching and radical amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 has just passed in Rajya Sabha now in the absence of the Opposition that is being silenced on Manipur. The journey of the Bill to soon becoming law is a case study on how to completely subvert the legislative process.”

He further said in the Twitter post, “Both the substance of the amendments and the manner they have been bulldozed through in Parliament, reflect the mindset of the Modi Government, and the vast gap that exists between its global talk and domestic walk on the environment, forests and the rights of adivasis and other forest-dwelling communities.”

The Upper House also passed the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023 which seeks to amend 183 provisions to be decriminalized in 42 Central Acts administered by 19 Ministries and Departments.

The bill proposes measures such as revision of fines and penalties commensurate to the offence committed, establishment of Adjudicating Officers, establishment of Appellate Authorities and periodic increase in quantum of fine and penalties.


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