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Govt releases Natural Resource Accounting to track mineral, energy deposits

The Government Accounting Standards advisory board (GASAB) has come up with a Natural Resource Accounting (NRA) for tracking and maintaining the natural resources of India. GASAB had prepared templates for the asset accounts for mineral and energy resources which were field-tested and reviewed by the experts in the consultative committee. As on date, all 28 states and one Union Territory (J&K) have prepared the asset accounts for 2020-2021. The asset accounts captured details of 34 major minerals, 58 minor minerals and all four fossil fuels. A report of the asset accounts will be shortly published and an electronic dashboard with information will be hosted in the web.

GASAB has developed standard operating procedures to ensure automated collection and compilation of data from 2022-23. It would also suggest recommendations for end-to-end mapping of supply and use of resources which would help the states in mopping up due revenues from the resources.
Also Read: Seized over Rs 36-cr illegal mining cash in Jharkhand in last 2 months: ED

Upon compilation, the asset accounts would enable multiple data such as a one-pager document on state-wise resources and compilation of physical and monetary values and analysis of revenue vis-à-vis market value/export value to assess and review the royalty rates and arrest windfall gains and protect state’s revenue interest. They would also help identify alternate resources, both economic and energy, and aid in developing an ecosystem for containing illegal mining.

The formats of asset accounts have been designed in keeping with the prescriptions of System of Environmental-Economic Accounting central framework (SEEA-CF), which allows flexibility to embed country specific needs. For example, the asset accounts on mineral and energy resources incorporate information on illegal mining while the asset accounts of water resources require information to be provided separately for surface water and groundwater, taxed and untaxed water etc. The SEEA-CF prescribes seven resources; mineral and energy resources, land and soil resources, timber resources, aquatic resources, other biological resources (except timber and aquatic resources), and water resources.

Another recognised issue was the role of private players and bringing them under the overall framework of NRA by proposing specific reporting requirements, so that the entire spectrum of resource extraction and utilisation and management of residuals can be covered under one umbrella.

The concept paper envisaged by GASAB has also set up short-, medium- and long-term goals that span 10 years (2020-30) and converge with sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the UN General Assembly (2015-30).

The short-term goals (2019-20 to 2021-22) are preparation of asset accounts on mineral and energy resources in states, initiation and preparation of a disclosure statement on revenues and expenditure related to NRA.

The medium-term goals (2022-23 to 2024-25) are about preparation of national asset accounts on mineral and energy resources, and in respect of other four resources namely water, land and forestry and wildlife resources in the states. They also entail preparation of functional accounts, recording transactions and other information about economic activities undertaken for environmental purposes.

The long-term goals (2025-26 onwards) are about supply and use of tables in physical and monetary terms showing flow of inputs, products and residuals; and preparation of the economic accounts highlighting depletion adjusted economic aggregates.

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