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'Mining is all loot and run'

Q&A/ Chandra Bhushan

Sreelatha Menon  |  New Delhi 

Mining sites have become conflict zones as the inhabitants are unwilling to believe that the miners will bring them any good, says Chandra Bhushan, for Science and Environment, in an interview with Sreelatha Menon.
Excerpts:
 
There is tension, be it Essar and the Tatas in Chattisgarh, or Arcelor-Mittal, Vedanta and Posco in Orissa. Why is it so widespread?
 
It is merely because mining in backward areas causes suffering to people. Their water and forest resources are polluted, as it was pointed out in the case of Neyveli lignite mines. The wastes are not disposed of properly, leading to diseases. The past record of rehabilitation is poor. Besides, people think mining has little job potential for them.
 
Would you blame lack of transparency ?
 
There is a total breakdown in communication between miners and the communities. Miners don't talk. They fund political establishments.
 
The Anwarul Hoda committee report on mining asked for eliminating public hearings in the case of mines smaller than 50 hectares.
 
That is what the industry wants. Neither the communities, nor the civil society was heard by the committee.
 
You have pointed out that mining districts are also the poorest districts in the country.
 
Yes. The poorest people in the country live in the richest land. We found that 34 of the 40 mining districts are also the most backward districts in the country.
 
Is that a coincidence?
 
No. It has been proved that mining has not contributed to prosperity of the people. We did district by district analysis. The district with most iron ore, Keonjhar, was also the poorest in Orissa. Mining is all loot and run. There is no accountability.
 
Is mining incompatible with environment? Is there a way out?
 
Mining is required. But the regulatory mechanisms have to be sound. The Minerals Conservation and Development Rules, for example, are too vague. The Indian Bureau of Mines, for instance, surveys all 3,000 mines annually but each year finds the same number of violations. There is no policy on closure of mines. People won't sacrifice their lives just for national development.
 
Is there such a thing called good mining?
 
No. There can only be well managed mining "" Sesa Goa, for example "" to reduce impact on environment.

www.cseindia.org

 
 

First Published: Mon, April 30 2007. 00:00 IST
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