August 25, 2010

illegal mining: commission by omission??

The union government has set up a Commission to probe into cases of illegal mining of coal, iron and manganese ores in various states. It will submit its final report in 18 months.

It is an open secret that illegal mining of different sorts is being resorted to in different parts of the country with hardly any prosecution. The legality has many hues such as: bland illegal encroachment of land, encroachment because no fixed boundary for legally leased areas was drawn, encroachment by bribing regulators, encroachment by forging papers, manipulation of documents, authorities closing eyes despite knowing about encroachment because of pecuniary, criminal or political reasons and so on.

So much is the gumption of the mining mafia that they killed a RTI activist right near the Gujarat High Court for his potential to expose them. They have inter-state operations, enormous wealth and political clourt cutting across political parties.

So, the government will wait for the Commission to give its report in about one and half years, then debate it in and outside parliament and then implement it as poorly as it implements other laws. States will generally not be supportive; there will be blame game; extraneous issues will creep in… The mineral resources will keep getting plundered.

In the meantime, the government has been reported to have approved giving special powers to the National Mineral Regulatory Authority (NMRA, a bodyproposed to be set up under a new law being formulated to regulate mining. We have had a lot of debate here and there but when the law will see the light of the day is to be seen.

Unless the union government takes support of state governments in full sincerity and starts meting out exemplary punishment, it will itself be guilty of deliberate commission. Setting up a Commission is often an excuse for inaction.

... It has emerged as the most serious menace in a number of states affected by tribal deprivation and Left wing extremist violence, with profound political, economic and social implications... Sonia Gandhi in her address to Congress MPs on 19.8.10

[To me, it is one thing to have something legal and the other to have it legitimately. I will share my views on immorality of legal mining sometime later.]

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