Thursday, February 08, 2018

Mining sector: Civil society bodies "support" Modi's Make in India if it's not for export, locals are trained in new skills

By Our Representative
In what may be interpreted as a controversial move, at least two prominent civil rights organisations, Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P) and Goa Foundation, even as talking of mining rights of the local people, especially tribals, have said that they are ready to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make in India thrust, provided that locals are "involved" in a reasonable way.
In a representation on the draft National Mineral Policy (NMP) to Veena Kumari Dermal, director, Ministry of Mines, Government of India, Rebbapragada Ravi, chairperson, and Ashok Shrimali, secretary general, MM&P, have called the draft "a step towards greater clarity in public policy regarding rights of the communities affected by mining."
Characterising it as "a small step but in the right direction", MM&P insisted, "Advancing Make in India in mineral sector should ensure that large sections of population who are mostly adversely affected by mining is not left behind", adding, "Make in India initiatives should encourage and make sure that the affected population participates in it as a livelihood source."
In order to operationalize this, MM&P said, "The local community should be provided adequate skills in order to operate the machinery being used in mining and prospecting", adding, "The local community which will be affected should be trained and skilled to be part of the human resource."
The Goa Foundation, in its representation through Dr Claude Alvares, taking a somewhat similar view, said, "NMP should not be subordinated to the demands of those who have developed a vested interest in export of minerals. The Make in India policy should effectively rule out such kinds of exports."
It regrets, however, "Little thought appears to be given to how this new emphasis on Make in India reconciles with the continuing practice of exporting such minerals, often at depressed or ridiculous prices, despite the real fear of their impending scarcity." Refusing to object to allowing private sector entry into exploration, the Goa Foundation wants that it's activities "should be monitored by the state", and only "licensed private entity" should be allowed to take up "exploration activity." This would make mining "industry friendly", and have a positive impact on "environment and social lives of the affected population."
Ironically, MM&P simultaneously said, "There is a need for mentioning the Samata Judgment which prohibits the buying of tribal land by a non-tribal... The general rules of 'ease of doing business' does not apply to the Vth Schedule areas. NMP should clearly state the limitations of doing business in Vth Scheduled areas."
The Goa Foundation, on its part, said, Government of India, while formulating the new NMP should not to "miss this historic opportunity to put mining on a sustainable footing, which would be of utmost importance to the national economy, ensuring it is intergenerational equity compliant”, adding, it is happy to note that the new draft talks of "natural resources, including minerals, are a shared inheritance."
"This acknowledges and reiterates the constitutional position that natural resources are owned by the people of the state", and the state is "merely a trustee of these natural resources for the people and also future generations (Public Trust Doctrine). State is not the true or real owner", it asserted.

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