Gujarat mining rules ignore Grievance Redressal mechanism to address human rights issues

sand_mining-621x414Representation by mines, minerals and People (mm&P) on the draft rules “The Gujarat Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2016”, prepared by the Industries and Mines Department, Government of Gujarat:

mm&P (mines, minerals & People) is a growing alliance of individuals, institutions and communities who are concerned with and affected by mining. The isolated struggles of different groups have led us to form a broad national alliance for combating the destructive nature of mining. mm&P network is at present working in 16 states across the country. Our comments / suggestions are enlisted below:

  • The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act of 1997 and the Supreme Court Judgment in the case between Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd. Vs Ministry of Environment and Forest and others have upheld the rights of tribal communities and affirmed the importance of free prior consent of the affected community for any mining lease. We suggest that the rules should explicitly state that without free prior consent of the affected community the proposed mining lease will not be approved.
  • The draft rules comprehensively state the technicalities of proposing and subsequently mining minor minerals. But it does not detail the social implications or procedures to be followed, nor does it recognize the rights of individuals or communities over land. As per the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of Thressiamma Jacob & Ors Vs  Geologist, Department of Mining Kerala, the owner of the land is the owner of the mineral and without the consent of the land holder mining lease should not be approved.
  • Rule 6 (3(d)) on pages 7-8 is contrary to the Samata Judgment where the lease should only be granted to an individual or cooperative belonging to tribal community. We suggest modifying this rule to involve tribal individuals or tribal cooperatives, so that they could be eligible for granting lease.
  • Rule 21 (e) states there should be no mining operations in certain areas. Transportation infrastructure is mentioned but there is no mention of villages or habitations which are very vulnerable to blasting or quarrying operations. Mining should not be allowed within 1 km of any village or habitation.
  • Rule 21 (m) to submit progress reports:The rule does not specify any time period for submitting reports. The rules should be clearly state the duration for each report — it could be 6 months.
  • Rule 31 on removal from agriculture lands: This rule can be misused since it is quite vague on the process for conversion of land use from sustainable (agriculture) to unsustainable (mining). Further after mining the land would be degraded and would not support agriculture. In the spirit of sustainable development land use conversion from agriculture to mining should be avoided.
  • Rule 83 on employment of qualified officers: Preference should be given to individuals from the local community. Unless clearly mentioned, mining would not translate to any economic development of individuals or families.
  • Rule 86 on environment impact mitigating measures: Strict compliance with the measures should be followed. In case of violation or non-adherence it should entail penalty which could be cancellation of lease.
  • There is no mention of Grievance Redressal mechanism in case of violation of human rights, rights over land and illegal mining.
  • There draft rules have been found to overlook social impact of mining. It is our earnest request to have a detailed set of rules in place for dealing with social aspects of mining.

These are some of the comments and suggestions from mm&P. We would also request a meeting with stakeholders for better framing of the rules.

–Rebbapragada Ravi, chairperson; Ashok Shrimali, secretary general

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