Mining law may empower women in rehab cases

Written by Subhash Narayan | Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 16 2012, 06:56am hrs
In a major step towards women empowerment, the Centre is planning a new legislation that will make the woman of the house the chief beneficiary of the compensation for land acquired for mining projects. According to officials in the mining ministry, the move will not only ensure the compensation amount is spent wisely but also give women a bigger role in financial decision-making.

The draft new Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011 which is currently being vetted by a parliamentary standing committee provides for sharing of 26% of profit by coal miners and an amount equivalent to royalty by others (in case of other minerals) with project-affected people. The money is to be distributed to beneficiaries through a District Mineral Development Fund.

Women are best suited to use the money for the family's well-being, unlike men who could indulge in wasteful expenditure, said a ministry official.

According to sources, the changes could be included as part of the rules and regulation associated with the new mining law. This would allow transfer of annuity payment to project-affected families to the account of the female head of the family. The tribal affairs ministry has also lent its weight to the scheme proposed under the new MMDR Bill.

The ministry's view is that rehabilitation package should be in the name of the lady of the house or in the names of both spouses in case of married couples. The Forest Rights Act (FRA) does factor in women as joint holders. Moreover, in case of land allotment of patta where tribals are involved, it is in the name of women as they are the preferred beneficiaries. The draft rules have been made and would be finalised soon, said Vibha Puri Das, secretary, ministry of tribal affairs.

The practice is already being followed by the rural development ministry in many of its programmes such as the Indira Awaas Yojana. States such as Andhra Pradesh also have similar programmes.

Not just that, the petroleum ministry has also allowed a mandatory 50% female ownership for any cooking gas dealership in rural India under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) Vitrak Yojana.As per the draft MMDR Bill, the annuity payout for families would be calculated for each member and the benefit would be given to the head of the family.

The money from firms would go to a District Mineral Foundation where it will be pooled so that it could be distributed equally within the district every year. The beneficiary would be identified and the money transferred either to the bank account of the beneficiary or an account opened for transferring benefits under the NREGA scheme. The Centre plans to rope in NGOs and women groups to ensure that compensation reaches the right person.