Skip to main content

Sustainable mining

The Supreme Court’s verdict permitting resumption of iron-ore mining in Goawith a temporary cap of 20 million tonnes per annum is welcome for more reasons than one. First, the lifting of the mining ban will restore livelihoods to a vast number of people in a State whose economy is powered by the twin engines of mining and tourism. By the Court’s own finding, more than 1.5 lakh Goans depend on the mining industry directly, and then there are downstream beneficiaries such as truck operators and other service providers. The State’s economy has suffered, as indeed the country’s exports, due to the 18-month ban. The verdict represents an acknowledgement that the problem with mining is not the activity itself;
rather, it is illegal and unregulated mining that needs to be clamped down upon. The problem in Goa, as also in Karnataka, began with the unscrupulous activities of some mining companies which pushed the boundaries of their operations, literally and figuratively, beyond legal limits. Mining in areas outside the lease territory, under-reporting production both in quantitative and qualitative terms and showing scant regard for the environment were the reasons that attracted action from the NGOs and the public and caused the courts to step in with a ban. It is shocking that the exports of iron ore exceeded official production figures in each of the five years between 2006-07 and 2010-11. This is evidence of illegal mining.
The Supreme Court has now defined the framework, inclusive of directions to the Centre and the State government over the promulgation of rules and adherence to them. It has also acknowledged the concerns of environmentalists by prohibiting mining within a kilometre of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries in Goa. By directing the Centre to notify eco-sensitive zones around national parks and sanctuaries within six months, the Court has ensured that the mining industry’s territory is clearly marked out and there is no possibility of harm being caused to the ecology and environment. The interim solution of allowing up to 20 million tonnes of ore to be mined per annum until the expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court comes up with its final report in the next 12 months, is a fair one as it takes into account the interests of both the mining industry and the environment. With the State government now being permitted to grant fresh leases as per its own policy, whether by auction or other means, the onus is now clearly on it to move quickly in framing a transparent policy in this regard. A well-regulated mining industry that is also environmentally sustainable is not a difficult goal to achieve if the government sets its mind to it.

Popular posts from this blog

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

The Chipko movement as it stands today

The idea behind the Chipko movement originated in early 1970s from Mandal, a village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Forty-three years later, Down To Earth travelled to Chamoli and Tehri Garhwal and spoke to the participants of this movement about its relevance today