A delegation* of the mines, mineral and People (mm&P) from across eight states recently met Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Minister of State for Steel and Mines Vishnu Deo Sai, as also parliamentarians of various political parties, to submit a memorandum insisting on the need to implement the concerns of children in the mining areas. A note prepared by Sayantani Sarkar:
The memorandum talked of the impact of mining on children’s health, education and migration, the impact of illegal mining and legal compliance and liability, need for setting up of a District Mineral Fund (DMF), a Future Generations Fund (GMF), and recognition of tribal rights under (Panchayats Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996 in the Schedule-V areas and the possible adverse impact of the proposed industrial corridors scheduled areas.
The delegation asked ministers, MPs and other senior politicians to take up the issues raised by them in the memorandum in Parliament, even as demanding appropriate actions. “Unfortunately, despite several strict rules, regulations and Acts, 90% of the mining in the country is illegal, and tribals are deprived of their basic rights in the mining areas. They are treated as untouchables, paying least attention to their opinion”, said Ashok Shrimali, general secretary, mm&P.
The delegation raised the issue of funds accrued under DMF that were intended to be used for the rehabilitation and development of the communities affected by mining, pointing out that DMF has still not being set up in the some of the states.
Voicing concern over the aggressive exploitation of natural resource and uncertainty of the future generations during the meeting with parliamentarians, Shrimali demanded setting up of an intergenerational equity fund, even as extending the landmark judgment on the creation of the Goa iron ore permanent fund, delivered by the Supreme Court in the case of Goa Foundation vs the State of Goa, across the country.
The delegation raised concern over the recent notification issued by the Government of Maharashtra in October 2017, which dilutes the tribal villages’ power to oppose land acquisition for projects under the ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur expressway project. It said, the move has been faced opposition by tribal villages. Already, an ordinance has been issued overriding a 2016 notification, which had asked district collectors to take the concerned gram sabhas’ permission before allowing the sale of tribal land to non-tribals as guaranteed under the PESA.
Expressing concern over poor governance and apathy of state governments in protecting the interest of tribals and in implementing the provisions of PESA and the Samata Judgment in fifth schedule areas across the country, the delegation requested Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Vishnu Deo Sai, Minister of State for Steel and Mines, Government of India, as also the MP from Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, to look into the matter and demanded appropriate action against the blatant violation of the provisions of the Act. The delegation demanded a proactive interest from the centre in implement the act in its true spirit, and suggested that there should be cooperative mining, and that tribals should be made shareholders in the mining project.
The delegation requested parliamentarians to take appropriate action with regard to 50% of the schedule areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra being covered as part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and its impact on the women and children of the concerned areas.
The delegation demanded:
- Extension of the Samata judgment to all the scheduled areas.
- The opinion of the local tribal people should be given priority or at least they should be approached before setting up a prospective mining lease.
- Reduction in pollution created by developing dedicated corridor for transporting minerals, thus minimizing the impact on the community.
- Setting up of DMF in all the concerned mining states and utilization of DMF funds for improving and developing the socio-economic condition of the communities directly affected by mining, especially children, women and aged people.
- Inclusion of concerns related with children and women in the mining law.
- Give preference to tribal cooperatives on leasing for mining activities for better utilization of resources and benefit sharing.
- Extend the Supreme Court judgment on intergeneration equity/permanent fund (in the case of Goa Foundation vs State of Goa) across the country.
- Rehabilitation/resettlement of the displaced tribal communities and livelihood opportunities for their income generation.
- As per the Supreme Court judgment on the issue of Niyamgiri hills (Odisha), the consent of the Gram Sabha and the local tribals is a must with regard to the starting up of any new industrial project.
- The Dhangars of Maharashtra, Lambadas of Odisha and Telengana, and Charan Rabaris and Barwars of Gujarat receive facilities that are actually the right of the tribal population. It should be ensured that the tribal people are given priority in these matters.
*The delegation consisted of Ashok Shrimali, secretary general, mm&P; Indu Netam from Bastar, Chhattisgarh; Savita Rath, of the Jan Chetna Manch, Raigarh, Chhattisgarh;. Sadhna Meena, founder-member, Adivasi Ekta Parishad, Udaipur, Rajathan; Siya Dulari, working for women’s rights in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh; Munni Hansda from Dumka, Jharkhand; Joseph Victor Raj from HOPE, Puducherry; and Deme Oram from Rourkela, Odisha.
Apart from two Central ministers, the memorandum was handed over, among others, to Harish Rawat, ex-CM of Uttarkhand; Dr Heena Gavit, BJP MP from Nandurbar, Maharashtra; Arjunlal Meena, BJP MP from Udaipur, Rajasthan; KK Ragesh, CPI-M MP (Rajya Sabha) from Kerala; Mansukhbhai Vasava, BJP MP from from Bharuch, Gujarat; Ramappa from the Scheduled Tribes Front (Congress) of Karnataka; Jitendra Chaudhury, CPI-M MPfrom Tripura East; CPI-M MP (Rajya Sabha) Brinda Karat from West Bengal; and Oscar Fernandes, Congress MP (Rajya Sabha) from Karnataka; Rajeev Gowda, Congress MP (Rajya Sabha) from Karnataka); and Mallikarjun Khadge, Congress MP from Gulbarga, Karnataka