NC Holds Major Discussion On Mining: No New Leases Till Impacts Are Assessed

The National Council discussed the follow-up report on the Impact Assessment of mining activities during its session on September 12.

The discussion on the issue was divided into three parts: recapitulation of the 10th session resolutions, implementation status of the recommendations and recommendations from the Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC).

The 10th and the last session of the NC of the first Parliament had deliberated at length on the Impact Assessment of mining activities in the country, whereby eight- recommendations were made.

It had primarily called upon the government to undertake geological mapping of the country before embarking on further mining and quarrying activities; define clear responsibility for the concerned authorities; revisit the existing policies and see whether the mines and quarries are being operated as per the provisions of the law.

The Upper House also discussed the cost benefit analysis and socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining and quarrying, reviewing the effectiveness of environmental restoration measures currently under practice and ensuring mining and quarry companies file annual tax return properly.

The recommendations also states that with increasing developmental activities, there should also be adequate measures for conservation of natural resources, following the middle-path strategy.

And finally, it asked the government to freeze issuing new licenses till all the concerns outlined above are resolved.

Under direction of the NC to the NREC to follow-up on the implementation status of these recommendations as resolved in the 10th session, the latter had initiated follow-up activities with relevant ministries and agencies.

After presenting the review reports, the NREC submitted the recommendations to the House for further recommends and amendments. After a long deliberation the House resolved to revisit the fresh recommendations in consultation with the Legislative Committee and other interested members.

The House will re-deliberate on the recommendations on 19 September 2013.

NREC also shared the earnings reported by Department of Revenue and customs under the CIT/BIT category by the mining and quarry companies for the past three years. In 2010, CIT/BIT generated was 148.63mn, in 2011 it was 163.15mn while last year it increased to 169.59mn.

NREC submitted the review reports on the legality of banning mining activities by local governments (LG) within their geographical jurisdiction and report on the follow-up on impact assessment of mining activities.

The issue on the legality of banning mining activities by the LGs in certain areas in Samtse was raised by the Samtse NC, Sangay Khandu.

Later in the afternoon, the House conducted its first Question Hour session of the Second Parliament with the minister of agriculture and forest, Yeshi Dorji.

During the Question Hour, the House asked questions on human-wildlife conflicts and leasing/reinstating of sokshing and tsamdro rights to the people.

The minister submitted that the questions require extensive research and holistic considerations by all the stakeholders. However, he assured the house that the ministry will submit more comprehensive answers during the next session.

The deliberation on the review report on Changjiji Towa Theatre and Performance audit of Constituency Development Grant (CDG) will continue on 17 September 2013.

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