Civil society groups made two requests to the Center, CM of Mineral Rich States
PANJIM: Civil society groups have demanded that anyone convicted of illegal mining be disqualified and that the extractive sector follow best practices from other sectors.
Expressing concern at the inaction of governments against illegal minors, such as the “blacklist”, various civil society organizations have written a series of letters to different EU ministries, to chief ministers of wealthy states. minerals and the Controller and Auditor General (CAG).
Organizations include the Goa Foundation, Environics Trust, Common Cause, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, The Future We Need (TFWN), and Mineral Inheritors Rights Association (MIRA).
They had two sets of demands.
“First of all, as a misappropriation of the shared inheritance of mineral wealth, anyone convicted of illegal mining should be disqualified under various laws such as the PMLA, IBC and the 1974 Act. economic crimes, “the group of organizations said in a joint statement released on Friday.
Their second demand is that the extractive sector (oil, gas and mining) should follow the best practices of other sectors that manage wealth such as the financial sector.
“People with low integrity cannot be allowed to manage our shared ‘jeydaad’. In accordance with financial industry practice, violators of important laws, including economic and environmental laws, should not be allowed to manage our common heritage of mineral wealth. This must apply to the granting of a prospecting license or a mining lease, on an ongoing basis as well as before any change of control, ”they added.
“We earn the right to extract resources while respecting the inherent value of nature. Sustainability, integrity and due diligence are not only good ethics, but also good economics. It is essential to apply global standards of ownership and background checks of extractors, their background, conflicts of interest, etc. We advocate maintaining full transparency and accountability across the industry, ”said Vipul Mudgal, director of“ Common Cause ”.
In a related development, they pointed out that the Odisha government requires bidders to submit a letter of offer stating, “I / We have not been convicted of illegal mining. “
However, the group of organizations pointed out that there are companies that have obtained blocks of ore despite having been convicted of illegal mining. A complaint was lodged by Lok Sakti Abhiyan to Odisha against the allocation of certain blocks.
“In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all mining in Goa after 2007 was illegal. 100% illegal. It is unthinkable that these same illegal miners could be involved in any way in mining in Goa or elsewhere in the country. It would be irresponsible and we strongly oppose it, ”commented Claude Alvares, Director of the Goa Foundation.
“Integrity due diligence is required in all areas that manage heritage. We hope that industry associations such as FICCI and FIMI will support our demands to exclude the corrupt from the mineral supply chain. Only if bad actors are blacklisted can honest companies be rewarded, ”said Rahul Basu of TFWN.
“The government, instead of using a fit and proper person test to screen mining companies and anticipate illegal mining in the first place, has changed the definition of illegality. This has emboldened all illegal miners who now have the audacity to challenge the sovereign right of the government to even tax them. We have to stop the rot, as the Shah Commission has pointed out in the past, ”said Sreedhar Ramamurthi, Managing Director of Environics Trust.
“Last year we reviewed all bidders’ records for coal blocks auctioned in mid-2020 and found significant violations by all 42 bidders. How can such entities be allowed to manage our collective family gold, ”asked Saswati Swetlena of MIRA.
They also referred to India’s National Mining Policy which says, “Natural resources, including minerals, are a shared heritage where the state is the trustee on behalf of the people to ensure that future generations receive the benefit of inheritance. State governments will endeavor to ensure that the full value of the minerals mined is received by the state.
In this context, the group added: “States are only the depositaries of mineral wealth for the people and in particular for future generations. As custodians of this heritage, it is our duty to ensure that our children inherit either the mineral wealth itself or its value. Mining / extraction is actually the sale of this wealth. Royalties, auction premiums and the like are the proceeds of the sale of minerals, financial wealth in exchange for family gold.
They lamented that illegal mining has been documented in iron ore in Karnataka, Goa, Odisha and Jharkhand and in various other cases of illegal mining across the minerals and the country.
They also lamented the lack of adequate mechanisms to hold illegal miners accountable and take strict actions such as blacklisting them from any mining activity.
“Any violation, whether economic, environmental or social by the entity must be sufficient reason to disqualify minors on the basis of questionable integrity and they should be prevented from managing our common heritage of mineral wealth,” said added the group. .