Socially responsible mining should take into account health and human rights of the affected people

images (1)Representation to Veena Kumari Dermal, director, Ministry of Mines, Government of India, by Rebbapragada Ravi, chairperson, and Ashok Shrimali, secretary general, mines, minerals & People (mm&P), on the draft National Mineral Policy:

The draft National Mineral Policy is a step towards greater clarity in public policy regarding rights of the communities affected by mining. It is a small step but in the right direction. We, representing the mining affected people of the whole country, do hereby suggest that the vision statement of the NMP should include a non-negotiable “Sunset Clause” regarding the utilization of District Mineral Funds by state governments and pursue the goal of Nil-Illegal mining within two years of its acceptance.

Suggestions

  1. The vision statement of the National Mineral Policy should include ‘socially responsible mining’ taking into account the health and human rights of the population affected by mining.
  2. Regulation of Minerals (2.2)- In this regard there is a need for mentioning the Samata Judgment which prohibits the buying of tribal land by a non-tribal. The general rules of “ease of doing business” does not apply to the Vth Schedule areas. The policy should clearly state the limitations of doing business in Vth Scheduled areas.
  3. Regulation of Minerals (2.3)- The enforcing agency should also include some members of the affected communities with providing them adequate training as they can contribute a more sustainable strategizing.
  4. Role of State in Mineral Development- the role of state is also to consider the environmental, health, social, livelihood and human rights issues before granting licenses for mining. State also has to setup a grievance redressal body in the sites of mining where the affected population can approach with their problems.
  5. Prospecting and Exploration (4.2)- Private sector entry into prospecting and exploration should be monitored by the state and only licensed private entity can take up the exploration activity. This will reduce the occurrence of illegal mining.
  6. The prospecting and exploration procedures are industry friendly but these can have a reverse implication on the environment and social lives of the affected population, especially the children.
  7. Advancing make-in-India in mineral sector should also ensure that the large section of population which is mostly adversely affected by mining is not left behind. Make-in- India initiatives should encourage and make sure that the affected population participates in it as a livelihood source.
  8. Mining Equipment (6.4)- The local community should be provided adequate skills in-order to operate the machinery being used in mining and prospecting.
  9. Human Resource Development (6.5)- The local community which will be affected should be trained and skilled to be part of the human resource.
  10. The Revised National Policy should include a section on penalties that will be imposed in case of any violation of the various provisions as outlined in the Policy.
  11. The social impacts of mining should be considered on priority and prior permission of the community, as laid down in the Niyam Giri Judgement, have to be clearly mentioned in the Policy.
  12. Mining affects children, women and other vulnerable categories of the community adversely. Children are the future of the nation and have equal rights to enjoy the fruits of development. The NMP should categorically state its priority for the health, education and livelihood of these sections of affected community.

***

Representation by Rebbapragada Ravi, executive director, Samata, a civil society group working among and for the Adivasis on the draft National Mineral Policy:

  1. Conflict in Mining sites between affected population and the miner should be strictly dealt with by the state governments following the letter and spirit of the Samata vs Union of India, 1997, Judgement.
  2. The creation and use of District Mineral Fund should be streamlined and states which fail to utilise the fund should be taken to task.
  3. Children bear the brunt of extraction process and environmental outcomes of mining. The NMP should state that violation of the Rights of the Child would be a punishable offence and negligent states would face criminal proceedings for such violations.
  4. Any executive order regarding mining, which violates the principles of right to life of the Adivasis in the PESA areas, would suo motu be declared ultra vires by a district level court and shall be binding on the state policy.
  5. Nil-Illegal mining should be the clearly stated object of the NMP within two years of its acceptance.
  6. Cooperative mining has been mentioned in the draft NMP, basically for minor minerals. They have to be considered even for major minerals.
  7. The full value of mining should accrue to a Future Generation Fund in order to provide collective rights over resources. This should be a stated objective of the NMP.
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