Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Goa elections: Civil society asks people to support candidates insisting on people's control over mining

By Ashok Shrimali*
Goa’s civil society is all set to make the idea of intergenerational equity in mining, which seeks to promote the idea that people own minerals in common, with the government being merely a trustee, a major issue in the Goa state assembly polls, scheduled for February 4.
Goenchi Mati Movement (GMM) – set up in 2014 for advocating for reforms to mining – has begun an all-out effort to propagate by collecting more support ahead for the idea, saying, people should vote for only those candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections who endorse and support the concept of intergenerational equity in mining.
GMM has said in a statement, the idea has been supported independent candidate from Benaulim, Judith Almeida, declaring its intention to come up with a manifesto seeking the candidates’ nod. Already, the Archbishop of Goa has endorsed the idea.
The GMM statement in support of intergenerational mining has been signed, among others, by writers Maria Aurora Couto and Suresh Amonkar; Claude Alvares of the Goa Foundation; Rahul Basu of Ajadé; Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, and Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan; Jagdeep Chhokar, founder, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR); top economist Prof Jean Dreze; anthropologist Felix Padel; and EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India.
insists GMM, “Minerals are a shared inheritance. And the existing system is leading to enormous corruption and misgovernance”, adding, “In the Goa mining case, the Supreme Court ruled that all mining during the period from November 22, 2007 to September 10, 2012, was 100% illegal” and should be “banned”.
“According to a Goa Foundation estimate, Rs 65,058 crores was recoverable on account of five years of illegal mining”, the statement says, adding, “Instead of recovering this staggering amount, the BJP government in the state renewed the leases to the same miners.”
“As there were no auctions or other attempts to get the full value of the minerals, the Goa Foundation estimated that there was a further loss of Rs 79,836 crore. The mining companies again got another windfall”, it underlines.
Quoting the MB Shah Commission on Goa mining GMM says, “It is pertinent to state here that such illegal act can’t happen without connivance of the politicians, bureaucrats and lessees. There is a complete collapse of the system.”
Seeking for the implementation of some simple Constitutional principles in the management of mineral wealth, GMM has demanded that the government should recognize minerals as common resources owned by people, and the government should “merely as a trustee of natural resources for the people and especially future generations.”
GMM further says, as people have “inherited the minerals, they are simply custodians and must pass them on to future generations (intergenerational equity)”, adding, if people “mine” and “sell” their mineral resources, they should be ensured “zero loss, i.e. capture of the full economic rent (sale price minus cost of extraction, cost including reasonable profit for miner).”
Pointing out that “any loss is a loss to all of us and our future generations”, GMM says, “All receipts from minerals must be saved in a permanent fund”. It underlines, “Similar proposals are already implemented all over the globe.”
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*General secretary, Mines, Minerals and People

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