On this Human Rights Day, we want to emphasise that the right to minerals lies with the local people, and so they must benefit
Year 2015 has been an important year for mining and community rights in India. After years of struggle and discussions to secure the rights of communities to benefit from the mineral rich lands, an opportunity has come in the form of a newly-amended law.
The country's central mining law, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act of 1957 has been amended this year. Besides various changes, the law has created the provision of creating District Mineral Foundation (DMF), a trust to be developed by states in every mining district of India to work towards the benefit of people. Mining companies and individuals doing mining will pay certain amounts annually to the DMF that will be used to improve the social and economic status of mining affected communities.
There remain issues with the DMF, particularly the money that will come into it, but it is an important initiative. After a decade long struggle and discussions, it is a path-breaking "recognition" that people have a right to benefit from the mineral rich lands, and not just be left to bear the costs. But now, the communities must be enabled to exercise their rights in the right way.
On this Human Rights Day, we want to emphasise once again that the right to minerals lies with the local people, and so they must benefit. For this, we have prepared a short video on the DMF and the rights of communities.