Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Corruption, Govt Apathy Boost Illegal Mining In India

Lack of livelihood opportunities is forcing hundreds of poor Indians take up illegal mining.

Illegal coal mining is widespread in Jharkhand, India’s largest coal producer state. An estimated 7,20,000 tonnes of coal is smuggled every year in the state. Most of it is controlled by an organized syndicate of coal mafia.

More than 350 people have lost their lives in illegal coal mining in the last 15 years. Since they were mining illegally, no compensation or aid is ever provided to the victim’s family.

If they escape being arrested, they are still at risk of getting arrested under the Goonda Act - law enforced by the govt to curb illegal mining.

The earning of these people just Rs 200 a day – extremely paltry compared to the high risk they take. Even this amount is not guaranteed.

Similar is case when recently 4 labourers died during illegal mining activity in the aravallis and

However, police and the district administration are in a denial mode indicating a larger complicity, including political patronage to the strong mining mafia active in the region.

This could lead to a nexus between criminal and anti-national elements, especially in Naxal-affected areas.

What is most worrying is the high degree of convergence between areas that are mineral- and forest-rich and areas that are the arenas of tribal deprivation and Left-wing extremist violence.Protecting the rights of tribals and ensuring their livelihood are central to bringing about an end to their exploitation and sense of alienation.

Health hazards
Workers affected by lung diseases - Silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, is another grim reality in the area. Despite an official order to provide compensation to the silicosis victims, nothing has been done so far. The workers also get affected by deadly diseases like tuberculosis and asbestosis.

Ecological Changes
According to the Lok Ayukta Report, there have been severe ecological changes due to illegal mining. Certain species of animals, like the sloth bear, that in the Bellary region have disappeared. Medicinal plants from the area do not grow anymore. The entire system of rain has changed in the district of Bellary. It is reported that the entire area surrounding the mining area is denuded of greenery and has no agricultural activity.

Same is the case across India!

It is high time the Government adopts a carrot and stick policy and weeds out corruption in this critical sector before it bleeds India. Let no one be spared. Book the guilty and Jail them!

Jai Hind