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Exploitation of mineral wealth

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Jeffrey Lee in Australia is sitting on Uranium deosits which can provide 'clean' energy to the entire country for decades together and beyond. But, he is not interested in selling out even if it will make him amongst the richest men in the world (check this report in Daily Good). But, how come the government is not using the 'eminent domain' powers to acquire the land? Or, if the Autralian constitution does not provide for such land acquisition, how come there's such a provision in the Indian constitution?

Very much like Jeffrey Lee, groups of Indian tribals are sitting on a vast deposits of mineral wealth, largely across the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, etc. But, unlike him, they do not 'own' the land, and, consequently, the governments' legal position in notifying these lands for exploiting their mineral wealth cannot perhaps be questioned. But there are other concerns involved, some prominent ones being as listed below, along with possible ways, as I can see, to address them:

a) Displacement of the tribal population - They can be re-settled in properly designed housing colonies, which could form a part of the mining and processing project (I expect Jamshedpur was once no different from what any of these tribal habitats today are. A TISCO changed all that, and if I understand correctly, the employees there, on an average, enjoy a living standard not incomparable with any Bangalore techie).
b) Eventual withering of the tribal culture - Communities keep evolving, and even if the jholawallahs entertain romantic notions of the richness of the tribal life, etc, I expect very few of the youth amongst the tribals, particularly the ones that have had some bit of an exposure to the outside world, will want to continue in the same life-styles (rather, everyday battles for mere survival) as their parents. Also, culture and traditions are better nurtured by a well-fed community.
c) Environmental degradation - Apparently, many Indian companies have already shown how to do the job responsibly, firstly by taking up the mining area by area, in stages, and re-greening them after they have been exploited.
d) Inequitable distribution of wealth - These are resulting plainly out of the failures of the governmental machinery. Hopefully, the learnings from Bellary and Orissa scandals will bring about the necessary correctives. Check also this

Now, if all of the above can be addressed properly, and monitored closely by duly constituted regulatory bodies, with possibly people like even Medha Patkar on them, would it not be a desirable thing to happen?

On the other hand, if mineral wealth is not to be exploited, do you still term it wealth?

Muralidhar Rao
 

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