The union government on Thursday approved the introduction of a bill in Parliament to regulate the conditions of work and welfare of persons employed in mines.
The bill, approved by the union cabinet, seeks to amend the Mines Act, 1952 (35 of 1952) and consolidate the law relating to working conditions in mines and other related matter.
The bill seeks to provide for appointment of officials in addition to agent of employer in the mines. Besides, the bill seeks to revise the definition of owner in the Mines Act so as to make it more comprehensive and specific.
The government also seeks to increase the penalties provided in various sections and to shift the burden of proof upon the person who is being prosecuted or proceeded against.
The bill also will define the 'foreign company' with reference to the Companies Act, 1956.
The amendments envisage extending the Act to the whole of India, including territorial waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zones and other maritime zones of India.
The Mines Act was last amended in 1983. Since then, several developments in the area of technology, scale of operations, working environment and work practices in coal, non-coal and oil sector have taken place.
Mining operations are getting more mechanised with the introduction of heavy machines, shallow deposits getting depleted and mines becoming deeper with their attendant complexities. Also, operators from other parts of the world have started acquiring mining rights and managing mining operations within our country. All these developments have necessitated amendments to the Mines Act 1952, an official release said.