Samata and National Level Alliance- mines, minerals and People has been working to ensure rights of the tribals and other marginalised communities in mining affected areas from past three decades. The issues are manifold- illegal mining, health hazards, effects of mining on women and children, DMF, marginalization and abuse, displacement, joblessness, environmental degradation and abject poverty. The Alliance has also been taking help of the state machinery in order to ensure the rights to the marginalized communities. In this regard, from 25th-28th of July, 2017, a Delegation of mm&P representing 16 states met with Members of Parliament and Ministers of various states and political parties. The Delegation had a dialogue with the MPs and Ministers on various issues relating to mining and discussed way forward in order to mitigate these issues.
The delegation was led by Mr. Ravi Rebbapragada, Executive Director of Samata & Chairperson of mines, mineral and People, Mr.Ashok Shrimali , Secretary General, mines, mineral and People and members from 16 states- Mr. Rahul Basu from Goa Foundation & Goenchi Mati Movement, Mr. RavindraVellip , a young firebrand social worker &activist from Goa, Mr. Swaraj Das from Project Affected People’s Association (PAPA), West Bengal, Mr. S. Azad from Prasar, New Delhi, Bansilal Bhinjana , Rajasthan State Mine Labor Union, Rajasthan, Mr. Rajesh Tripathi, Jan Chetana Manch, Chhatisgarh, Mr. TSS Mani, a freelance journalist and PUCL member and Mr. Thamizhinian from Tamil Nadu, Mr. Ashok Choudhury, an eminent Gandhian leader from Adivasi Ekta Parishad Gujarat, Ms. Sadhana Meena from Adivasi Ekta Parishad Rajasthan, eminent tribal leaders like Deme Oram from Odisha, Mr. Mukesh Birua from Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand, Mr. K.V Pratap from Telangana, Mr. Shiva Kumar Malagi , a firebrand anti-mining activist from Jan Sangram Parishat, Karnataka, Mr.Anil Singh Bhaduria from Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Raju Pandara from Adivasis Ekta Parishad,Maharastra, Mr. Manphool Singh from Haryana, Mr. Santram from Himachal Pradesh. This engagement was aimed,
- To reflect the state specific issues and challenges faced by the local community people living in the mining areas at the National platform.
- To take cognizance of the severity of the problems faced by children and initiate suitable measures to minimize the same by bringing them to the notice and knowledge of Honourable state and central ministers.
- To address aforementioned issues and inclusion of children in the mining laws.
- The issues put forth in front of the MPs and Ministers include,
- Children in Mining areas – consequences on education, health- malnutrition problem and Inclusion of children and women in mining Law.
- Illegal mining -put an end to the illegal mining with immediate effect.
- Air pollution:-Reduce the pollution, immediately develop dedicated corridor to transport the ore thus minimizing the impact on community
- District Mineral Fund – Proper utilization of the funds without diverting them for the benefit of mining companies/mafias and utilizing the DMF funds for improving and developing the socio-economic condition of the communities directly affected by mining.
- Governance issues in the Vth Schedule areas, the deprivation of tribal rights :- Give preference to tribal cooperatives on leasing for mining activities for better utilization of resources and benefit sharing.
- Future Generation Fund – Extent the Supreme Court judgment on intergeneration equity/permanent fund (in the case of Goa foundation vs State of Goa) across the country.
The state wise issues are attached as annexure 1.
The Monsoon Session of the Parliament was in action and hence the Delegation urged the MP’s to raise questions on the various issues about mining as mentioned above so that the issue of mining and its social consequences is discussed in the parliament and the concerned Minister may put forth the government’s action.
The delegation met the following MPs and Ministers,
25th July’ 2017: The delegation met the senior political leader Mr. Sharad Yadav from Janta Dal (U) currently representing the state of Bihar in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, and discussed with him on the aforementioned issues and submitted the memorandum to raise in the parliament.
With regard to the plight of tribal and non- governance and blatant violation of PESA, 1996, FRA 2006 in the Vth schedule areas, Mr. Yadav assured the delegation that he will take on the issues in the parliament. Further, Mr. Yadav advised the team to focus on consolidation of tribals across the country, which, in deed, is the need of the hour and to bring about the change in the fifth schedule areas.
In reference to the proper utilization of funds of DMF, he assured to raise the same in the Parliament about its deviant utilization.
26th July’ 2017:The delegation met Mr. Mansukhbhai Vasava, (BJP) Senior Member of Parliament from Gujarat, Mr. D. Raja (CPI), Senior Member of Parliament from Tamil Nadu, Mr. Kantilal Bhuria (INC), Member of Parliament from Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Tiruchi Shiva, (DMK) Member of Parliament from Tamil Nadu and Mr. Shripad Yasso Naik (BJP), Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) from Goa.
Mr. Mansukhbhai Vasava: The delegation met Mr. Mansukh Bhai Vasava, a member of Parliament representing the state of Gujarat and had a dialogue on PESA, children in mining areas, Illegal mining, relevance of Samata Judgment and communities command over natural resources. Mr. Vasava reassured the delegation to raise the issues in the ongoing session in the parliament. Mr. Vasava extended his solidarity and advised the team to keep on fighting.
Mr. D. Raja: He suggested the local groups to continue fighting. He said he will raise all the issues mentioned in the memorandum and will talk to other MPs in the Parliament on the issues raised by the delegation.
Mr. Shripad Yasso Naik: The delegation waited to meet him, but since the Member of Parliament was not available, the memorandum was submitted to his Personal Assistant.
Mr. Kantilal Bhuria: With regard to the situation of tribal people and non- governance and poor implementation of PESA, 1996, FRA 2006, and other legislations and violation of the same in tribal areas especially in the fifth schedule area, Mr. Bhuria said that he would take the issue of Adivasi Rights forward and that he would demand the government to implement Samata Judgment in all the Scheduled areas across the country.
Mr. Tiruchi Siva: The delegation met a senior member of parliament, had a dialogue and expressed concerns over the issues on Illegal mining, plight of children in mining areas, non-implementation of funds accrued under District mineral Funds and non-implementation and poor-governance in the Vth scheduled areas. Mr. Siva said that he would raise them in the Parliament. He also arranged for a meeting with the Minister of Coal, Mines, and Energy, Mr. Piyush Goyal.
27th July’ 2017: The delegation met Tribal Affairs Minister, Jual Oram, Piyush Goyal, Minister of State, Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Rajeev Gowda (INC), Member of Parliament from Karnataka, K. Kavita (TRS) Member of Parliament from Telangana, Mr. Godam Nagesh (TRS) Member of Parliament from Telangana, Mr. Jairam Ramesh(INC), Member of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Piyush Goyal: With regard to Illegal Mining Mr. Goyal initially denied the existence of Illegal Mining in the country.
In case of proper utilization of the DMF funds, Mr. Goyal reassured to develop a mobile app immediately, so that the fund is not misused and people are aware about how much money is being allotted and how/where it is being spent through this app.
On the issues of air pollution and iron ore transportation in the villages of Chhattisgarh in order to reduce the pollution , the minister said that government would take initiatives to immediately develop a dedicated corridor to transport the ore thus minimizing the impact on community especially children.
In reference to giving preference to tribal cooperatives on leasing for mining activities for better utilization of resources and benefit sharing, Mr. Goyal categorically rejected the idea of giving preference to the tribal cooperative on leasing land for mining. The following is the news coverage of the delegation meeting Mr. Piyush Goyal.
Mr. Jual Oram & Mr.Godam Nagesh: The delegation met the minister of Tribal Affairs, Mr. Jual Oram and Mr. Godam Nagesh, a member of parliament from Telengana state to submit the memorandum. The team expressed its concern over the hardship that are faced by women and children in mining areas, criminal attempt by the states to divert the funds accrued under DMF, the poor-implementation and blatant violation of PESA, 1996 in the fifth scheduled areas across the country and demanded, while submitting the memorandum, a strict action against the violation and fair implementation of the Act from the government.
After listening to the concerns raised by the delegation, Mr. Oram considered to look into the matters and take appropriate action against violations of PESA, 1996 in fifth scheduled areas.
Mr. Rajeev Gowda: The team expressed its concern over the aforementioned issues and requested to Mr. Rajeev Gowda to raise them in the parliament. Listening to the concern, Mr. Gowda positively accepted the request to attend workshop on DMF in Karnataka.
Mr. Jairam Ramesh: With regard to Future Generation Fund, Mr. Ramesh said he would demand it in the Parliament to extend the landmark Supreme Court judgment on Intergeneration Equity/Permanent Fund (in the case of Goa foundation vs. State of Goa) across the country.
In reference to the proper utilization of funds under DMF, he assured the team that he would definitely raise the deviant utilization of funds criminally diverted by the states.
Ms. K. Kavita: Listening to the concerns raised by the delegation, Ms. K. Kavita agreed the lack of representation from victim /the actual sufferers in the DMF and promised to put forward the petition in the Parliament.
28th July’ 2017: The delegation met Jitendra Choudhury (CPI), Member of Parliament, Tripura East, Mr. Kamal Nath (Congress), Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, Faggan Singh Kulaste, (BJP), Minister of State – Health and Family Welfare, and requested the ministers and parliamentarians to take up the issues, raise them in the parliament and demand for appropriate actions.
Mr. Kamal Nath: The team expressed its concerns over the aforesaid issues and demanded their intervention in the parliament. Listening to the concerns, Mr. Kamal Nath advised the local groups to continue fighting. He reassured to take up and raise all the issues in the Parliament.
Mr. Faggan Singh: Mr. Singh agreed on organizing a dialogue with tribal MPs from across India in New Delhi. Dates are not fixed though.
Mr. Jitendra Chaudhary: With regards to non-governance in fifth scheduled areas, Mr. Chaudhary advised the team to file a writ petition and invited the delegation to attend an upcoming meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Petitions to be held in Goa.
Following this, on 3/8/2017, two questions were raised on the number of illegal mines in India and what steps has the government taken to stop them. The questions were raised by Shri Parmeshwaran of AIADMK and Shri. Mansukhbhai Vasava of BJP from Gujarat to be answered by the concerned Minister. The details of the questions raised and the reply is attached as annexure 2.
The Minister of Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal gave written reply to the questions. According to his statistics there are over 96,000 illegal mines of both major and minor minerals operating in various states of India as of 2016-17. The Minister says the numbers have reduced from 2015-16 when the cases of illegal mining were 1,10,476. Maharashtra has been stated as having the highest number of illegal mines followed by Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The Minister said that 20,569 FIR’s have been filed and 213650 illegal vehicles have been sealed between 2013-14 to 2016-17. Taking about the initiatives taken by the government to stop illegal mining, the Minister said, ” Ministry of Mines has taken the initiative to adopt the use of Space Technology through Mining Surveillance System to support State Governments in curbing illegal mining. Further, stringent penal provisions have been provided in the MMDR Amendment Act, 2015 for control of illegal mining”.
State specific issues related to Mining:
Silicosis is a major problem effecting both children and adults in many areas of Rajasthan. On an average one mine worker dies of silicosis every five days in Rajasthan. According to the data provided by the State Mines Department, more than 2052 cases of silicosis were recorded in the last three years. Of that 236 labourers have succumbed to the disease and 1816 are undergoing treatment at various government hospitals. Incidentally of the 236 labourers that died of silicosis, 89 hailed from Jodhpur and 73 from Karauli.
- Child labours- There are numbers of children who are in this category but no cases have been done.
- School dropouts: There are hundreds of children who are enrolled to school in the beginning to schools later on they are out of schools. But regular attendance has been done.
- Child Marriages: It is quite huge in our areas but no proper proof to show to govt. with photos and wedding cards etc. age proofs
- Government schemes: it is not reaching; even if it reaches it requires lot of underhand business to collect money to sanction it.
There is also a concern over the criminal delayed in preparing an action plan and implementing the lying unused fund accrued under the KMERC (Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation). Although it’s been more than 5 years of Supreme Court order in the case of Samaj Parivartan Samuday v/s State of Karnataka to undertake environmental restoration work in mine ravaged districts of Ballari, Chitradurga, and Tumakuru in the state of Karnataka, not a single penny is spent on the community directly affected by mining, nor are the KMERC showing proactive interest in implementing the order. In fact, there is an attempt being made by the state machinery to divert the fund to create infrastructures for the iron ore and steel mining companies in the areas.
There is a burning issue in Sonshi village of Goa wherein 45 tribals were illegally arrested and were kept in judicial lockup for almost 9 days in last April this year. The villagers were protesting against the air and noise pollution. The pressure was built Government only when these arrested 45 villagers refused to sign the bail bond and their school going children held protest before the Police Station. The High Court of Bombay at Goa and Goa Children right commission has taken Suo-Motu cognizance of the said incident and the matter is still pending before the court.
When High Court asked to file a reply to the concerned authorities, the reports submitted were indicating serious violations of laws and the pollution were at much above the permissible limit in the said area. Out of the 13 mining leases, 12 mining leases now non-operational as the Goa State Pollution Control Board refused to renew their consent to operate.
Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights took suo-moto action on the basis of an article published in the “The English Herald” back in April 16, 2017 about the plight of children and villagers in Sonshi village in Sattari Valpoi. Two members Mrs. Sujata Bhatkar and Mrs. Carmelina Franco, from GSCPCR (Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights) visited the site. While visiting the site they interacted with around fifteen children who were worried about dust pollution and contaminated drinking water. Health issues like eye problems and asthma due to dust posing a risk to their health, the children narrated. The local school had only four children and they were covered with dust, looking pale and sick. The noise of excavation was deafening and was a big distraction to school children. The only source of drinking water, a well in the village, is also contaminated .Drinking water supplied by tankers are filled in through the barrels are again coated with dust. Thus the children are denied of basic human rights by keeping them away from safe drinking water. Numbers of children who walk through the dusty road to study in nearby school in Sankhalim and Navelim are victim of dust and air pollution created by the mining industry. The full area is dusty and roads need to be sprayed with water from time to time to keep area free of dust. The basic human rights of access to safe water, lead healthy life and, sanitation are denied by the state. Therefore, the State Commission asked the Government authorities to look into the matter seriously as the basic child rights are violated.
Mr. Mansukhbhai Vasava and another MP had raised three questions in the Parliament with regard to Illegal Mining on 03/08/2017 to which the Min. of Mines has replied.