States told to regulate mining sector growth

Bangalore, Sep 19 (IANS) State governments have the responsibility to ensure sustainable growth of the mining sector, which got mired in controversies due to violations by some of its players, a senior central government official said Thursday.

"Recent developments that unfolded in the sector are of our own making, which led to decline in mining. It is the responsibility of the state governments to ensure the rule of law prevailed in its functioning because land and reserves belong to respective states," union Mines Secretary R.H. Khwaja said at the annual conference of the industry here.

Calling for concrete solutions and constructive suggestions from the stakeholders to solve the industry problems, he said state governments should have systems and processes in place for time-bound approvals and transparent dealings to avoid delays and litigation.

"The state governments also have a larger role to address societal aspects of mining by ensuring companies comply with R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) and CSR (corporate social responsibility) rules framed by the Supreme Court and the central government," Khwaja told about 500 delegates participating in the fourth edition of the three-day convention-cum-trade show.

Advising the industry's representative body - Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi) -- to avoid indulging in blame game, `he said the need of the hour was to work with a common vision in a mission mode and right framework, reflecting the spirit of the country's ethos.

"We have to come with solutions. There are good examples of eco-friendly and sustainable mining. We must focus on good practices to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. There is no magic wand with us.

"The ministry of mines is in the process of setting its own house in order. We have started revamping GSI (Geological Survey of India) and other state-run enterprises like IBM (Indian Bureau of Mines)," he observed.

Differing with the views expressed by Fimi president H.C. Daga that there was "gloom and doom" in the sector due to ban on mining and export of iron ore in Karnataka and Goa where multi-crore scams were unearthed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Lokayuktas resulting in the intervention of the apex court, Khwaja said the stakeholders should introspect to find out where a section of miners went wrong leading to the present crisis in the industry.

"With 89 mineral deposits, India is a leader in the mining sector with abundant reserves to mine. With the world's third largest coal reserves and fourth largest iron ore reserves, the total value of all minerals produced in fiscal 2011-12 was $41.4 billion. The sector also attracted $1 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) in the mining sector during the fiscal under review," he said.

The Mining Act of 1957 is being amended for sustainable and scientific mining to ensure environmental protection and rights of the people living in mineral areas, be it in forest lands or in the plains.

"The industry has to keep the National Mineral Policy of 2008 in view for sustainable growth," Khwaja added.


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