K’taka mining dependents stage protest at Jantar Mantar

Deccan Herald | April 16, 2019

Mining dependents of Karnataka on Tuesday staged a protest here at Jantar Mantar to press for non-discriminatory practices in iron ore trade in the state and sought immediate action by the Centre in “rescuing their livelihoods from prejudiced policies” prevailing in the state.

“Around 600 people of Karnataka Gani Avalambithara Vedike (KGAV), consisting of iron ore mining dependants from Bellary, Hospet, Chitradurga districts and surrounding mining belt gathered for a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi today,” KGAV, which represents mining dependents, said in a statement.

The mining dependents have also made a plea to allow free trade, giving preference to local iron ore over imports and ensuring regular business for truckers and lakhs of other mining dependents, it said.

Leading the protest, KGAV spokesperson Rajakumar S said in the mining belts of Karnataka which are also drought-prone areas, around 25 per cent of the population depends on agriculture, whereas the remaining 75 per cent depends on mining.

Despite this huge number, the lives of these mining dependants have become uncertain due to discriminatory policies and restrictions prevalent only in Karnataka, resulting in massive unemployment.

“We have gathered here to make an appeal to the Supreme Court, the Centre, the concerned ministries and bureaucrats to save us from these biased trade practices and provide us an environment that ensures a secured future for our families and children,” Rajakumar S said in a statement.

In addition to the loss of livelihood, the stagnant production and inventory pile-up has disrupted the state’s economic growth, causing a huge loss to the exchequer and contribution to District Mineral Foundation (DMF) and other welfare and developmental schemes, he added.

After mining was banned in Karnataka, lakhs of people dependent on iron ore mining industry including truckers were the most affected as it resulted in large scale job losses. Their livelihood became highly uncertain even after the Supreme Court permitted to start mining but, production cap, e-auction and lots of other restrictions lowered the mining capacity that led to stagnation in iron ore industry.