A joint delegation of civil rights organizations, Samata and mines, minerals & People (mm&P) led by mm&P chairperson Rebbapragada Ravi and general secretary Ashok Shrimali met MPs of several political parties and minister of state of state for coal and mines Haribhai Chaudhary to apprise them of issues faced by the people in the mining areas. Text of the memorandum submitted by them:
India currently produces 89 minerals out of which four are fuel minerals, 11 metallic, 52 non- metallic and 22 minor minerals. Mining for fuel, metallic and non-metallic industrial minerals is currently undertaken in almost half of India’s districts. Post-Independence, mining has been considered as one of the main industries that generate high revenues considering that India is significantly endowed with mineral resources. In our country mining based development is considered to be directly proportional to economic prosperity at all levels — be it national or local. But that has not been the case!
Mining has always been a symbol of struggle between human need and human greed. The greed has always undermined the need. We are witness to many struggles by tribal and rural communities across India such as the one in Niyamgiri hills against Vedanta in Odisha, against POSCO in Odisha, against SAIL in Salem, Tamil Nadu, Iron ore mining in Goa, Coal mining in Chhattisgarh and many more. Through these struggles one can see that economic prosperity has never percolated to the local level.
It is in and around these mining areas that we find children the most vulnerable to the stark realities of extractive economy. These children are affected by mining both- indirectly and directly. It is these children who need our concern and attention and should be referred to as the mining children.
In this regard please find attached the various issues and questions raised by the people (given below). mm&P alliance requests you to take cognizance of the severity of the problems faced by the people and initiate suitable measures to minimize the same.
Samata is a tribal support organisation working on issues in tribal regions of north coastal AP since 25 years. The focus on impacts of mining on children started since Samata judgement in 1997 and has been one of our thrust areas since 2005.The organization has been campaigning to bring real improvements in the lives of children affected by mining in India.
mm&P (mines, minerals & People) is a growing alliance of individuals, institutions and communities who are concerned and affected by mining. The isolated struggles of different groups have led us to form broad national alliance for combating the destructive nature of mining. mm&P network is present in 20 states across the country.
Alongside the memorandum, the delegation also submitted a list of questions which could be raised during the current monsoon session Parliament
Implementation of PESA (Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Tribal Affairs)
- The Vth schedule areas of the country are mandated to be governed in accordance with the provisions of the PESA Act. However this is not the case.
- PESA empowers the Gram Sabha to protect and restore land, however this is not complied with except Maharashtra.
- There has to be amendment in central laws to comply with PESA such as Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and the Indian Registration Act, 1908 etc. All State laws to protect tribal lands do not fully comply with the constitutional provision ‘prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of the Scheduled Tribes’ [Clause 5(2)(a) of Article 244].
- Nearly 181-200 municipalities function unconstitutionally in Scheduled Areas by applying the general municipal laws that are prohibited by the Constitution. The areas are upgraded to municipalities outside the purview of PESA.
What steps have been taken by the Government in this regard. How to ensure that PESA is implemented in Scheduled Area States?
Illegal Land Acquisition for Mining and Infrastructure Projects in Tribal areas (Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Rural Development)
Vast tribal lands are being acquired for large scale mining in the states of Jharkhand, Goa, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra Amongst others. 8 out of 12 Coal Mines are located in Vth Schedule States of India.
- The number of illegal land acquisition and illegal mining happening across India.
- What steps have been taken by Government to curb illegal mining and land acquisition for mining and infrastructure projects?
Human Rights Violation in Tribal areas (Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs)
- Scheduled Tribes remain one of the most vulnerable, most impoverished, and most displaced of all groups in India.
- 1% of all STs in rural areas are below the poverty line as compared to 33.8% for the national average,
- 8% of all STs in urban areas are below the poverty line as compared to 20.9% for the national average.
- Inspite of being the only group with constitutional protections for their land rights, 9.4 % of STs are landless compared to 7.4% for the national average.
- While STs constitute only 8.6% of the total population, it is estimated that they constitute 40% of all people who have been displaced during the period 1951 to 1990, some more than once, due to the construction of dams, mines, industrial development, and the creation of wildlife parks and sanctuaries.
- Only 24.7% of ST population that was displaced during this period was rehabilitated.
- What are the steps taken by Central Government to rehabilitate the displaced tribals?
- What are the steps taken by the Central Government to improve health and education in tribal areas? Why are government initiatives not performing and what steps are being taken to ensure tribals live a lie with dignity and respect.
Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyaan (Ministry of Panchayati Raj)
- Under this scheme what are the specific projects that have received funds and what is the performance of the projects?
- Why are funds under this Scheme not released regularly? What steps have been taken by the Central Government in this regard?
Forest Rights Act (Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change)
An estimate of 200 million scheduled tribes and other forest dwellers residing in 1,70,000 are the potential beneficiaries of the community forest rights. However only 3% of the total land area has been recognized as community forest right which is 2.7 million acres.
- What steps have been taken by Central Government to address structural-institutional challenges in effective implementation of Forest Rights Act.
Patthargarhi Movement (Ministry of Tribal Welfare)
Patthargarhi (installation of stone) ceremony is the process of self-rule in a village. The Gram Sabha is the sole authority for a Patthargarhi village. After the Patthargarhi ceremony, a gram sabha is constituted, villagers swear to boycott elections, stop sending their children to government schools and promise not to enroll for any government identification, including voter ID and Aadhaar. The stone claims that all identification cards — Aadhaar, voter ids, etc — are anti-Adivasi documents. Besides, state police and elected representatives will not be allowed in these villages anymore, non-Adivasis too will have to take permission before entering Patthargarhi villages; those who are allowed in will have to pay toll tax.
This can be called an exclusionary alternative state model which is being created on ethnic grounds. The tribals are denying the sovereignty of the state, and want an alternate sovereignty. They are basically saying that the state has given them nothing for the past seven decades and it is time they took their fates in their own hands. The Adivasis have found a unifying expression of dissent in Patthargarhi. Pattargarhi Movement has widely found its ground in Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan etc.
- Why is the government saying that Patthargarhi is anti-national & anti-constitutional? And if the tribal’s notion of Pattargarhi is inappropriate then what is the proper notion of Patthargarhi?
District Mineral Foundation Fund in Karnataka
DMF rules of Karnataka are completely pro-bureaucratic and elected people’s representatives have upper hand. The managing committee of DMF has not taken representation of mining affected community and organizations working for them seriously. Though there is a provision in the DMF bylaw to include representative each one from mining affected community and organization working for them in the DMF managing committee, but it was not mandatory to have them in the Managing Committee while preparing plans and schemes under DMF. Here, voice of mining affected community remains unheard. Till date, none of the districts in Karnataka have nominated mining affected community members in the DMF.
- Why is there no representation from the affected community and what steps are being taken by the government to ensure this?
- There is no vigilance on nature of DMF fund spending. What are the steps taken by government to ensure that DMF fund is being spent for community benefit?
Karnataka Mining Special Purpose Vehicle
Karnataka is the first state in the country to have a first of its kind Special Purpose Vehicle named ‘Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation for Reclamation and Rehabilitation of Mining Affected Community and Areas’. This SPV was constituted following the direction of the Supreme Court. Iron ore Miner’s contribute 10 per cent of sale proceeds to this SPV.
Now, sources say that more than 10,000 crore is accumulated under this SPV from 2013 till date. State Legislature has No Control over the finance’s of this SPV. The Supreme Court has earlier rejected three socioeconomic R&R plans submitted by the Government of Karnataka on reason that State has included its regular schemes under this special plan meant for people and areas ravaged by illegal, reckless mining. Now, the Court has set deadline to State government to submit R&R Plan by October. In this wake, authorities have last week held public hearing in mining towns to get opinions for the Plan.
Now, there is a Big Rush of politicians to submit proposals Worth thousands of crores for want of money from this SPV. In all likelihood, it will again turn into a big scam like illegal mining scam of Ballari. Since, here too, till date, State government has not appointed two distinguished persons from civil society as Directors of the Corporation despite a recommendation by the Central Empowered Committee.
In the meantime, the miners are contending that objectives of SPV and DMF are similar and get overlapped. Hence, they stop contribution to SPV where money accumulated is sufficient to undo the damages of mining. However, court has ruled that Karnataka miners has to contribute both to SPV and DMF as the damages are “extraordinary”.
Now, there is a huge money for mining affected community and areas in Karnataka from both SPV and DMF, but there is very little space for the voice of affected communities.
- How to ensure that the money collected under SPV is utilised fairly for the benefit of the affected communities?
- What steps are taken by the Government to ensure that both DMF and SPV funds are separately collected and utilized in Karnataka?
Illegal Mining in Goa
There is no recovery of mining loot in Goa. Mining policy for the state of Goa is not formed by prior consolation of the affected communities and experts from the field.
- No amendment to the MMDR Act, 1957 or Abolition of mining concessions Act, 1987. What are the steps taken by the government?
- How and by when will the revenue from mining loot be collected?
- A comprehensive study of all mining affected regions in Goa before deciding on a mining policy is needed? Can the government ensure this?
Zinc Mining (Zawar Mines) in Udaipur District
- What is the situation of ground water and surface water in Zawar mining affected villages? Has there been any assessment of crop failure or crop loss due to water depletion and contamination in mining affected villages?
- What is the status of potable drinking water and health impacts in these mining affected villages?
- What is the rehabilitation plan for water, agriculture and health in the villages affected by Zawar Mines?
- What are the public service facilities provided to local communities by Zawar mines after the transfer of shares to Vedanta Ltd?
- What are the programmes and rehabilitation plan details, expenditures for women and children in mining affected villages around Zawar mines?
- What safety measures have been taken with the setup of the thermal power plant to address the air pollution in Nevatalai village?
- What is the number of closed mines in Rajasthan, and what is the rehabilitation plan and status of implementation at these mines?
- What are the expenditure and programme details under the DMF for closed mines
- What is the definition of ‘affected communities’, and how many affected communities have been rehabilitated?
- How many cases of Silicosis are identified in Udaipur district? Can you provide mining company wise and area wise details of families affected, rehabilitated and work safety facilities and standards improved?
- How much of funds and for what purposes has the DMF money been utilised for Silicosis victims?
Safety of Mine Workers
- Mining accident at the Turamdih Uranium Mine near Jamshedpur, run by the state-owned Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), killed three miners.
- Three workers of Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) were crushed to death when a portion of the roof of a structure inside the coal mine collapsed on them when they came in to drink water around mid-day
- Over 2.3 lakh people employed at various mining sites are at the risk of contracting silicosis, a lung disease caused due to inhalation of dust containing silica
- Death-toll at Lalmatia coal mine in reached 23
- five people were reportedly killed and several others injured in a blast at a stone quarry unit in Jharkhand’s Dumka district
- At least 10 workers were killed and several others injured in a massive explosion of detonators in a stone quarry in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district
- What is the compensation that the government has provided to the workers who died and injured in these incidents?
- What steps are taken by the government to ensure safety in the mines?
- What actions are taken against contractors and companies which violate the safety standards of the mines?