(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 29, 2010
Country Suffers Collateral Damage As well
AS we go to press, the central government’s rejection of the permission sought by the Aluminium giant Vedanta to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa has hit the headlines. The central government had declared that Vedanta has seriously violated all the major laws like the Environment Protection Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Forest Rights Act. It has ordered a further investigation into the allegation that the bauxite currently being sourced by Vedanta from 14 Jharkhand mines comes from at least 11 that do not have a valid environmental clearance. It is estimated that if the clearance had been given, in this instance, it would have led to the destruction of seven kilometers of forests that await inclusion in the Niyamgiri wildlife sanctuary. This would also have dealt a devastating destruction of livelihood and habitation of the Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh tribal population who inhabit these forests.
Notwithstanding the charges of `politicisation’ – one citing that this decision has come on the eve of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the area to uphold the rights of the tribals, while another citing the fact that if such a permission was granted, then Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta would have outstripped Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance as the richest Indian – this decision once again brings to the fore the crucial issue of the loot of our country’s mineral resources.
The loot of our mineral
particularly illegal mining and illegal exports of such resources
the worst case of `crony capitalism’ in
No country that aims to
important global role can afford to permit such a loot.
There is, thus, an urgent need for us to nationalise all mineral resources in our country and simultaneously ban all export of mineral resources from our country. Those who wish to use our mineral resources are welcome to set-up their production facilities in our country, thus adding value on our soil and providing employment to our people. Our mineral wealth will, thus, expand our productive capacity. This wealth cannot be allowed to be exported to other countries in order to increase their productive capacities at our cost. This is precisely what is being allowed today that sustains the super profits generated by a few.
The exposure of the Reddy
This issue of the loot of
resources has implications that go beyond the domain of violation of law and pecuniary gain. To
use the infamous
In 2006 alone, 1.84 billion tones of waste was dumped on the fertile land of our country due to such indiscriminate mining. This adversely affects the fertility of our soil, and hence, agricultural productivity. This is the `collateral damage’ that is taking place in terms of forest depletion, in terms of water that is being used up, which is a scarce resource in many parts of our country, in terms of dumping of waste on arable and fertile land reducing the production of foodgrains.
This is not all. The collateral damage extends to negatively influencing our polity and democracy. The ill-earned money through illegal mining is vastly influencing the politics and government formations in various states of the country with Karnataka being the most glaring example. The large-scale use of this ill-gotten money during elections is distorting our parliamentary democracy by forcing people not to vote on the basis of the policies of different political parties, but on the basis of the amount of money that they distribute to buy votes. These expenditures put to shame the ceiling on electoral expenses put by the Election Commission.
Further, the mapping of the areas of growing Maoist violence clearly shows that these are areas that are rich in mineral deposits and areas predominantly inhabited by our tribal brothers and sisters. The mining activities leading to large-scale displacement of tribal population in complete violation of the law of the land generates discontent that feeds the political project of Maoist violence. Thus, there is also a collateral damage in terms of strengthening those political forces which are completely opposed and antithetical to the system of parliamentary democracy in our country.
The issue of safeguarding
country’s rich mineral resources is no longer an issue of only preventing the loot of our precious
or to bring to book the culprits who are making enormously huge profits through illegal means. It is an issue of
protecting our environment, our scarce resources, our democracy and our
polity. It is an issue of safeguarding
In the 60th
our Republic, we need to take the bold step of nationalising all our
resources and banning of the export of these resources.
In the interest of modern