NEW DELHI: Government should consider a freeze on mining in Naxal-hit areas, tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo has said. Deo clarified that he was not against the industry or economic development, but unresolved land rights and mining were principle causes of alienation among tribals. This gave Maoists a toe-hold to exercise control over the area and local population.
“To a certain extent, unrest among the tribal population can be traced to ownership of land, access to forest produce and problems arising out of mining. There is a need to get to the bottom of these issues. Unless we sort out these issues, there will be no long-term solution to the Maoist problem,” Deo said.
Acknowledging that industry needed coal and minerals, the minister said that there was a need to work out a roadmap for mining resources. “Naxal affected areas are not the only areas where we have mineral resources. These areas are rich in natural resources, but also home to tribals and other extremely poor and marginalised populations. The local population has no stake or share in the mining proceeds.
The Mines and Mineral (Development And Regulation) Bill, 2011, seeks to address this issue, but Deo is of the view that it doesn’t provide a real solution. The proposed legislation makes it mandatory for mining lease holders to pay compensation to every person or family holding occupation or rights of the land for which the licence has been given. It also requires the holder of a mining lease to pay a percentage to the District Mineral Foundation, which will be used for those affected by mining.
This amount would be 26% profit in the case of coal and lignite and 26% of royalty paid in the financial year in case of major minerals. “How much is royalty? We are talking about 10% market rate, and 26% of that is a small amount,” Deo said.
Experts are apprehensive that the final sum provided to the Foundation may be low, as under reporting of quantities mined was prevalent. Not only does mining not benefit the local population, it results in large numbers of marginalised people being rendered homeless. With no established rights, receiving any compensation becomes difficult, if not impossible.
[Source — Economic Times]