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Govt of India "ignores" tribal communities while forming mineral policy committee, during consultations: mm&P

By Our Representative
A civil rights organization has taken strong exception to Government of India (GoI) refusing to appoint any representative of the mining-affected communities in its recent committee formed to review the National Mineral Policy. Set up on August 16, the committee, says the advocacy group, has 29 members, of which 25 are government officials, and the rest of the four are representatives of private mining companies.
Pointing out that the GoI has not even cared to take a civil society representative in the committee, mines, minerals & People (mm&P) in a representation to Dr K Rajeshwara Rao, Chairman, Committee to Review the National Mineral Policy, 2008, has said that in India, "the mineral wealth is concentrated in tribal hinterland", which have been accorded "special status vis-à-vis fifth schedule and sixth schedule (in the north east India) in the Constitution of India", hence needing special attention.
Signed by Rebbapragada Ravi, chairperson, and Ashok Shrimali, secretary-general, mm&P, the representation says, seen in this context, "it would bode well if there is representation in the committee from the community or organizations working with affected communities".
Referring to the minutes of the first meeting of the committee, held on August 28, 2017, mm&P said, in it, there were "fleeting references to sustainable mining and lack of synergy between the policy and statutory frameworks", yet there were no references to "addressing the primary concerns of the people who would be impacted and the consultation process with them."
Further, mm&P said, "During the period 2016-17 there were 96,089 cases of illegal mining for iron ore alone. This unprecedented number of illegal cases for a major mineral, one could easily imagine what would be the number of illegal mining for all other minerals."
Insisting on passing "stringent laws", lest illegal mining would continue unabated, mm&P said, "Involvement of local community or panchayat and making them a stakeholder in resource management and income sharing could be an answer to reduce illegal mining."
Referring to the need to form Inter-generational Equity Fund by recognizing that minerals are a shared inheritance and it is imperative that equity is attached to the income from mining which would then eventually be used by future generations of the mining areas, mm&P said, the Supreme Court sought it's formation in the order in the case of Goa Foundation Vs Union of India and others.
Insisting on the formation of the Equity Fund across India, mm&P said, it alone would make minerals available to coming generations, even as limiting environmental damage, adding, there is a simultaneous need to implement the Samata Judgment of the Supreme Court of 1997, which is a "weapon for the tribal communities across the 5th schedule regions in protecting their rights against alienation and marginalization."
Regretting that "governments and administration have undermined its implementation", mm&P pointed towards how the mining developers have never even sought to implement mining plans, which include mine closure and post-mining reclamation plan."
In a separate representation, the Goa Foundation's Sumana Nandi told the committee: “We must institute fair mining. The present generation cannot exhaust and sell all our minerals. The future generations have a right to the mineral wealth, and the value of what is extracted today must be saved for the next generations in a Future Generations Fund."

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