The natural resource forms an important asset which contributes positively to the development of any country or region. World over, countries have explored and exploited the mineral and other natural resources of the country for industrialization.
India is rich in mineral resources especially Iron ore, bauxite, limestone. The mineral sector’s contributes around 2.6 % to overall GDP of the country. However its importance lies in the fact that the mining sector supplies the basic raw material required for growth and development of other industries
In 1905 the country has set up first Iron and steel industry at Jamshedpur. The raw materials required for the industry was sourced from the neighboring resource rich region of Jharkhand. Today several industrial establishments in the country depend heavily on mineral extraction and production for their smooth functioning.
Prior to 1991 the mining sector was monopolized by the public sector. Post liberalization, many mines were opened up for private domestic and foreign investment. Today it has the status of the commodity.
It cannot be underestimated that the exploitation of mineral resources from mineral-rich states of Odisha, Goa, Karnataka and Jharkhand, mining has brought about economic development in the mining areas. Along with this, It has caused significant negative impact on the environment and ecology of the mining area.
In the recent period, opposition has come from various areas for mineral extraction on various grounds. . For instance the mining activities in Odisha had resulted in resettlement of the tribal life around mining areas. In the Niyamagiri hills of Orissa, the local population has vociferously opposed the bauxite mining project of Vedanta group. What are the major issues plaguing the mining sector in the country?Has the problems in mining sector in india affected the economy?
Why the problems in Mining sector in India
A National Mineral Policy was announced by the government in 2008.In1994, the government has made it mandatory to conduct EIA for a mining project. The major legal frameworks for regulation of mining activities in the country are the Mines Act 1952 and the Mine and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and the Rules framed under these two laws.
The laws and regulations in the area of mining are poorly followed due to lack of enforcement and coordination. The central and state governments exercise dual control over mining activities in the country. The state and central agencies are with inadequate funds and human resource to oversee and regulate the mining sector. Political interference and institutional graft further complicate the problem. In the recent years the political interference and corruption in mining activities came to lime light in states like Karnataka. Governance failure in mineral administration is thus a major problem.
This governance failure has resulted in illegal mining activities in a number of states sometimes even under political patronage. The illegal mining causes huge loss of revenue to public exchequer. Karnataka is the most glaring example in recent times.
If the mining is conducted using scientific methods by using advanced technologies, this will result in efficient utilization of resources and minimizing the impact on environment. However, in India though the established big firms utilize scientific techniques, there are a large number of firms using semi-mechanized or manual mining methods (mostly small mines) .These firms rarely confirm to the prescribed norms for mining activities.
There is a legal requirement of preparing mine closure plans which is rarely followed by mining organizations. Efforts are also not made for reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out land.
Presently, consultations with stakeholders are being done as part of Environmental Impact assessment before initiating the mining project. However there is no consultation later on with local communities in mining areas with regard to preparation and implementation of mine closure plans. Thus lack of transparency in communication, inadequate sharing of information with local communities and accountability are also major problems in mining areas.
Mining enterprises undertake socio-economic development of local area by setting up trust and other cooperative bodies as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. However, it largely depends on the level of commitment of the enterprises which as of now has not been fruitful enough. The recent law which made CSR mandatory is thus a welcome step to address the problems of mining in India
It is required that government undertake administrative reforms to end duality of control by fixing responsibility and accountability on the state government agencies for mineral administration. The mining enterprises should engage in consultations with local community at all the stages of mine life cycle. This will help in addressing their concerns about mining activity and make them aware of the benefits of the project.
Any development should be sustainable and not exploitative. Mineral development thus should be carried out within the limits of the carrying capacity of the region. The government should undertake comprehensive environment protection measures to minimize the negative impact of mining activity on the environment and communities.This will go a long way in addressing the problems in mining sector in India.