Small, Medium Mines Need Govt’s Attention: Mathur
Enmeshed with policy confusion, environmental hurdles and unending litigations, the mining sector in India is passing through one of its worst times posing serious threats to the growth of industry and infrastructure development and power generation.
Production in some of the biggest mines and mining areas of the country has been severely hampered forcing industry to depend on import of iron ore, coal, oil, gold and limestone etc. While the country has enough raw materials to meet its domestic requirement and also can export, today it is importing all kinds of raw materials losing billions of dollars of foreign exchange.
“Thousands of small and medium mines are struggling to survive. Litigations in courts and government’s indifference has closed down hundreds of mines. Green activists have a vested interest and they are one of the main reasons why the situation is so grave today,” said Akshaydeep Mathur, honourray secretary general of Federation of Mining Associations of Rajasthan.
He said FMAR has flagged off several problem areas that have been holding up the growth of the sector. The laws which regulate and govern the mining sector did not envisage a situation where the mining operations would require to be protected from closure due to provisions being mande in Acts and rules meant for non-mining activities like forest, irrigation, agriculture, land revenue, environment safeguard and others.
FMAR believes that the present situation is worse than the licence raj of 50s, 60s and 70s as each mine in the country now has to seek a licence to operate from scores of government departments in addition to mines department.
It says the skewed demand and supply situation has produced a breed of local Robin Hoods having the capability to deliver any mineral anywhere, while the poor legally operating mine owner is caught in the plethora of acts, rules, regulations, Supreme Court directions, local dons and a snake and ladder clearance system as he struggles to survive and produce to the best of his ability.
The concerns also include rapid acquisition of land by the forest department blocking mining and developmental activities under the grab of eco-sensitive zones, coastal regulation zones, inviolate forest areas, bio-diversity conservation, wildlife protection habitats, wilderness zones, heritage areas, tourist spots etc.
“Mineral bearing lands are further getting blocked to fulfil the needs of urban development, agriculture, water resources areas, rivers, dams, land for highways, railways, etc. In addition, there is a long wish list where land is needed and acquisitions are progressing rapidly without taking into account that invaluable mineral bearing zones are mindlessly blocked and immense mineral wealth of our great country is getting buried under cities, forest areas, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and highways creating a very complex socio-economic-political situations.
“The entire mining in India takes place in less than 0.5% of the geographical area of the country and to protect the sector, the government needs to provide a level playing field to the majority of lessees. Small and medium mines need the government’s attention and intervention for their revival and survival,” added Mathur.