With the government pitching hard for sustainable growth on the back of industrialisation, it is apparently giving a hideout to the bunch of natural resources which the country is ignoring for the last couple of decades. Dictating the country's economy, these resources can either be a bane or a boon for the nation.
On one extreme, the same resources have proved to be a curse for many African territories. However, on the other hand, they have uplifted the economies of many Latin American countries. Unfortunately, the Indian resource-rich states are still plagued with utter poverty and are categorised as BIMARU states. Almost all resource-rich states from Bihar to Rajasthan are mired in illegal mining and resource smuggling. The entire episode of illegal mining re-surfaced recently with the arrest of mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy (in Bellary in Karnataka). And with this, a series of such illegal operations grabbed headlines. The last few years have registered as many as 82,330 cases of illegal mining, with Maharashtra topping the list with 34,384 cases. Karnataka also witnessed a rise in such cases by 2.39 times with 4,949 cases reported in 2010. Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh also saw an increase in illegal mining by 2.72 times and 1.54 times higher than the 2009 figures respectively. Nearly, 60 per cent of the total iron ore mines in Goa are operating without essential clearances.
In the present circumstances, it seems that the efforts are below par. The country is yet to implement Mines and Minerals Development Bill, 2011. The recent ban on export of minerals by the government would only prove counterproductive. The central government has virtually no say in the entire issue as the ownership of mines still lies with state governments. In a few instances, state governments have been manipulating norms only to ease these corrupt practices. The figures reveal that nearly 40,000 cases pertaining to illegal mining and involving some top politicians are pending at various levels. The officials have been found sanctioning protected zones for mining and also issuing official written permission in order to make the illegal trade smoother and faster.
Taking stringent measures in this regard, the Union government should centralise all mineral hubs and mining zones and should bring them under e-governance. Manual documentation needs to be eliminated which would eventually reduce forgery and would make the entire process more transparent. It will mitigate state intervention and eventually reduce state-level corrupt practices. Although the states should be provided with annual royalties depending on the revenue mining zones create. This will be an incentive for the states and would encourage them to create sufficient infrastructure for attracting investment and trade. Above all, the entire system should be audited by an independent body to plug-in any loopholes that the system accidentally leaves unaddressed. Beside all these policy measures, the government and all the stakeholders need to realise a sense of strong leadership especially in resource-rich states. After all, it is leadership that differentiates Africa from Latin America.
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