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Mining Affected Communities discuss transformations in mining law

People demand, Government recognize that it is merely a custodian and particularly in Schedule V areas has no right to hand over the natural resources in favour of the corporates
Peoples Voice on October 17, 2015 - 7:57 pm in Rights

Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P), a National Alliance of Mining Affected Communities, organised a meeting for one and a half days in Raipur (16-17 October, 2015) to discuss on the transformations in mining law, benefit sharing and illegal mining.

The MMDR Act 1957 was amended in March 2015 to facilitate auctioning of non-coal minerals including minor minerals and extending the current leases for a period of 50 years and new mining leases also will be given for 50 years, these were earlier for a period of 20 years. Now the lessee can squat over a long period and cut across rights of two generations. Every year around 80,000 – 90,000 cases of illegal mining are reported by the Government and several questions have also been raised in the Parliament but there is no respite in curbing illegal mining. The figure for Chhattisgarh consistently remained between 3500 – 4000 illegal mining cases. This is a huge loss to natural resources by which few people are looting resources while the resources as commons are meant for communities – the fine realized per year is approximately 400 Crore which is merely a reflection upon the exponential loss that would have taken place.

The 1957 MMDR Act had nothing for the affected communities even after the Samata Judgment which said the 20% of the net profit from mining should come back to tribal communities (1997) or cooperatives. In the MMDR Amendment Bill 2010, there was a provision for 26% equity of mining affected communities in mining areas which would have given a right to communities to intervene legally in any illegal or unauthorized extraction or violations of environmental and other laws. Apart from this the communities would have organised their impacted lives which they have been living due to exploitation of minerals. This was slashed and replaced by 100% equivalent of royalty. But the MMDR Amendment Act 2015 even replaced this proportion of royalty. The new (section 9b) Act requires every mining affected district to form a district mineral foundation (DMF) which will receive some royalty from mining. It has been proposed that leases operational before January 12, 2015 will contribute 30% equivalent of royalty (over and above the royalty paid to State) and leases issued after January 12, 2015 will contribute 10% equivalent of royalty to DMF.

The PMKKKY scheme passed in September 2015 lays guidelines and works to be undertaken by DMFs which will be constituted by States after framing rules in consonance with PMKKKY. With this transformation, there seems nothing in favour of mining affected communities while community command over natural resources remains a neglected idea by the policy makers. The Governments are getting some royalty (Rs. 9406 Crore in 2012-13 from non-coal minerals and almost similar amount from Coal) and taxes which is nothing close to the value of minerals and remains a single digit percentage (around 6-8%). The royalty remained merely 15% of the total value of minerals produced during 2014-15.

Minerals are non-renewable and these got developed due to natural processes over thousands of years but the current development and exploitation of minerals has not thought about our future generations. Even if mining has to continue with minimize impacts and rationalization of legal mining, the government has to secure it also for the future generations which has also been stated by the Honorable Supreme Court* in Goa Foundation Vs Union of India. The government must now think about safeguarding the rights of future generations and conduct mining in a transparent manner as any loss to the mineral asset will only make the future of next generations weak and put them into a vicious cycle of resource crunch without any reparation.

The meeting demanded that the Government recognize that it is merely a custodian and particularly in Schedule V areas has no right to hand over the natural resources in favour of the corporates. The pittance in the name of PMKKY is an eyewash and we need communities command and control over all natural resources.

Indu Netam (Adivasi Samta Manch & EC Member of MM&P)

Ravi Rebbapragda, Chairperson of MM&P

Ashok Shrimali, Secy.General, MM&P

R Sreedhar, Advisor, MM&P

Rajesh Tripathi and Others from Raigarh, Members, MM&P

Junas Tirkey and Others from Jashpur, EC Member of MM&P

Mehdilal, Sarguja

Laxmi Chauhan, Korba

Rahul Basu, Goa

*principles of sustainable development and intergenerational equity which were part of the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution, require that a cap should be put on the annual excavation of iron ore from different mines in the State of Goa, after taking into account the need to conserve iron ore resources for future generations and the carrying capacity of the State of Goa for mining and transportation of mineral ores. [WP(Civil) 435 of 2012

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