Mine Or Everybody’s?

A NEW BILL SEEKS TO INCLUDE LOCALS AS MINING PARTNERS, SAYS KUNAL MAJUMDER

RAMANNA, THE CPI(Maoist) leader, has cited 96 of the 102 MOUs signed between the Chhattisgarh government and the mining companies as one of the leading provocations for the Dantewada massacre. “These multinationals continue to loot the natural wealth, leading to mass displacements,” he said. But now, he should be happy. The Ministry of Mines is working overtime to ensure that mining gets a human face. A new Mines and Minerals Bill, vigorously opposed by the mining lobby, will, if enacted, make it mandatory for 26 percent of the profits to be shared with the locals. Under it, licences can only be given to companies that make a full disclosure of their mine closure plans (filling up old mines) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

This is a big move. A top ministry official said similar legislations in South Africa and Peru had gone a long way to give the affected local communities a say in the matter. “This is a collective decision of the government — the first time that we are making it legally binding on mining firms to make sure the tribals are not alienated from their own land. All mining will have to be done on behalf of the tribal people.” They, and other local groupings, will receive a part of the profits generated via a tribal development board. Mining ministry mandarins hope, these measures will help silence critics of the country’s current development strategies, which have been enriching multinationals and pauperising the landowners.

Read the rest in Tehelka issue dated May 08, 2010

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