Tribal rights lose to fears of corporate wrongs

Steel min says no equity for tribals in mining as it would lead to corporate fraud


Sweta Ranjan | July 23, 2010

Even before the private mining companies protest against the ministry of mines’ proposal to provide 26 percent equity participation to the tribals in mining activities in their area, the steel ministry has opposed the move.

At the Thursday’s meeting of the Group of Ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the steel ministry out-rightly rejected the equity participation of the tribals, as has been provided in the new mining law being finalized. The GoM was meeting to finalize this legislation.

Its reason for opposition is that the private corporations will fudge their accounts to hide profit!

Instead of equity participation, the steel ministry proposed that the tribals to be compensated according to the rehabilitation and resettlement policies of the centre and the states. Such a move would obviously benefit the private companies, as well as the public sector undertakings as none of the R &R policies provide anything more than a part of the profits be set aside for local development.

The steel ministry has several other objections to the draft mining bill, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill of 2010. Some of these are:

1.     Restoring centre’s role in approving prospecting and mining leases, which is missing from the draft bill;

2.     Strategic minerals like iron ore should be treated as “sovereign assets” and the centre should decide concessions granted to mining companies;

3.     The bill should provide for the centre to regulate mining according to the requirement of the country;

4.     Restoration of reservation for public sector undertakings in mining lease, which exists in the existing mining law but not in the proposed new law;

5.     The centre should have power to direct state governments in matters relating to mining leases and

6.     Separate bidding and lease procedure for different categories—end-users, stand alone miners and PSUs.

Sources revealed that the GoM meeting generated so much heat that no decision could be taken on any of the contentious issues. The next meeting is scheduled for July 30.



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