Mining Multinational Conglomerations
Minerals : 84
Mines : 3490
Exports Rs 1895.62 millions
Mineral production Rs. 3074.50 millions
Mining is the single largest industry proposed in India. Most of the rich mineral wealth of India is found in the forest regions inhabited by the tribal/adivasi populations. Minerals form an important part of our GDP and earn valuable foreign exchange. But there is the dangerous prospect of loosing our mineral wealth to the few Multinational Companies who rule the global mining industry.
The opening of the Indian Mineral sector to Foreign direct Investments upto 100% foreign equity and several other liberal incentives has made the country an easy target to these MNCs.
It is true that these MNCs bring in large investments. But we have to understand that there is a strong socio-economic exploitative history to most of these companies. While the parent countries of the MNCs do not permit the kind of violations in their own countries these MNCs are known to stoop to any kind of exploitative and manipulative activity in the poor countries they colonise.
Some of the major multinational mining industries proposing mining projects in India are Rio Tinto Zinc (UK), BHP (Australia), Alcan (Canada), Norsk Hydro (Norway) Meridian (Canada), De Beers (South Africa, Raytheon (USA), Phelps Dodge (USA) and others.
The history of these companies in other developing countries in Latin America, Africa, Australia and South Asia has a devastating record of Human Rights abuses and legal violations even to the extent of holding large private armies, buying politicians and rulers, etc. Some of the well known violations are:
- MNCs have resorted to genocide, civil wars, strife and death in many countries in order to freely occupy peoples' lands.
- They have posed a serious threat to environment by destroying forests, bio-diversity, polluting rivers, dumping wastes as toxic as cyanide and mercury in peoples' lands and water bodies, causing oil-spills without cleaning-up operations, leaving behind large pits of land and mine tailings after extracting ore and closing down the mines.
- They have wiped out indigenous / tribal communities by grabbing their lands, destroying their livelihoods and cultures and making them more impoverished than before. Many tribal leaders have been hanged or killed to suppress any form of protest from local people.
- They control governments and ruling parties by dictating the rules and laws to be followed or removed as per their convenience using their sheer economic power.
- They have changed the environmental, social and economic legislations in many countries to their advantage in the name of development.
- After depleting all the mineral resources, they leave the countries and local people and it has been proved in countries like Peru, Chile and others that there is no increase in GDP or GNP of these countries as a result of mining or foreign investment as it is only the companies who profit from plundering.
- They have a reputation of engaging women and children in exploitative labour either directly or indirectly thereby causing serious human rights violations.
- As environment regulations are very strict in countries like USA, UK, Canada and across Europe, MNCs are entering India as we have weak legal safeguards and poor awareness among the public.
- In India, most of the minerals are in tribal and forest regions where MNCs are pressurising the Governments to amend the Constitution and its acts like the Fifth Schedule, Forest conservation Act, environment Protection Act, Panchayati Raj act and others so that they can easily acquire lands without following any strict regulations and amass huge profits.
- It is difficult to identify which MNCs are coming into India as they enter by stealth, buyouts, as joint ventures with Indian companies or registered as Indian companies. very little information is available on them and their proposed projects in India as they are trying to get quick approvals by circumventing many of the laws or getting sanctions without completely fulfiling all the norms like submitting EIA (Environment Impact Assessments), EMP (Environment Management Plans), disaster management plans, forest clearances etc. They are pushing the Government to do away with public hearings and other clauses.
- Importantly, they are pressurising the government to remove or amend the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that protects the Tribals of the country from being exploited by outsiders. It is very dangerous that they are having the power to meddle with the Indian Constitution.
- By bringing in investments into the mining sector they are not adding any new technology or infrastructure improvements to the existing public sector companies as the money from the sale of these companies to MMCs is utilised for repayment of outstanding debts by the country.
- MNCs are coming into India mainly because it has rich mineral deposits, has large illiterate populations, land and mineral resources are cheap, it is easy to get away with legal violations , very little fear of law-suits in case of disasters like in developed country and has highly corrupt bureaucracy.
Panguna, Papua New Guinea : Company (RTZ/CRA - UK/Australia)
The company is estimated to have dumped more than one billion tonnes of mine waste into the Pangana, Jaba and Kawerong rivers killing all aquatic life in 480 square kilometer river system. The waste formed a deposit approximately 20 kilometers long, upto a kilometer wide and several meters deep along the rivers with a copper contaminated outwash fan in Empress augusta Bay covering nine square kilometers.
In UK the company is accused of causing cancer in its Cappar Pas mines among many of its workers and inhabitants.
In Indonesia in Kalimantan and in Jabiluka in Australia, local communities are fighting the largescale human rights violations (even auctioning of local women to company staff, causing mental and physical deformities as a result of pollution and radiation)
Lihir, Papua New Guinea : Company (RTZ/CRA - UK/ Australia)
It is estimated that the company will dump 89 million tonnes of cyanide contaminated tailings and 330 million tonnes of waste rock into the ocean in an area describes as one of the richest areas of marine biodiversity on earth.
Ok Tedi Mine : Company (BHP - Australia)
As a result od Tailings and Waste rock pollution of the Ok Tedi River by BHP, all aquatic life has been killed upto 70 kilometers downstream. despite heavy protests the company continues to dump 80000 tonnes of tailings daily into the river.
Alcan and Norsk Hydro: India
Have resorted to beating up local tribals, booking them under false criminal cases and also organising a police firing in Kasipur, Orissa for their Utkal Alumina Project.
India has been historically plundered (Central Asian/Greek/European -Invaders/ Colonialists) We have experienced crime and tragedies such as the Utkal Alumina, Bhopal gas leak and have seen the Multinational companies going scot-free. We have not learned our lessons from the experiences across the world. To our rulers today, it is a religion and a fanatic mission to parcel off the country to these MNCs.
Concerted efforts are being made by the Executive to amend and dilute certain provisions in our constitution that weaken people's rights over the natural resources. The poor in our country know that this trend will lead to their further impoverishment and enrich already rich industries and its stakeholders.
This dangerous move done in the name of globalisation, liberalisation, de-regulation, disinvestments and finally divestment will lead to fatal consequences as far as the lives of poor people are concerned. This has already been borne out by the experience of poor in other developing countries that have followed a similar path.
We are concerned at the total lack of seriousness on the part of the Executive to protect the interests of the poorer sections of the society whose development has otherwise been advertised by them as their principal concern. In reality the fundamental provisions of the constitution as well as the clear directives of the Supreme Court that are favourable to the poor are being violated. The State, instead of being the custodian of the rights of the poor is colluding with other forces to violate their basic human rights.
In fact, the President of India in his address to the nation articulated this concern on the Republic Day of 2001.
India is now at a crossroads.
It can choose to ignore the lessons within the country and across the word and go down the path of disaster.
We can wake up and awaken the rest of the country and prevent a few individuals selling off India yet again.
The choice is before us .
The Government has may other options than this dangerous path of bending over backwards to welcome the Multinational invaders. The next section discuses what the Government should rightfully do instead of amending the fifth schedule.