June 25 - 29, 2018
The outrage over the suspension of an official, Durga Shakti Nagpal, for simply doing her job—check illegal sand mining in the rivers of Uttar Pradesh—has highlighted a crucial issue. It is now evident that illegal mining of sand from rivers and beaches is rampant and the underbelly of this industry (I’m calling it industry for want of a better word) is powerful and connected. Worse still, all this is happening in violation of the orders of the apex court of the country.
Shah Commission report shows how authorities, mine owners stripped Goa of iron
Sustainable mining is an oxymoron. Environmentalists will tell you this. Mining—coal to limestone—takes away forests, devastates mountains and leaves the land pockmarked. It also destroys livelihoods of people and displaces them. Worse, modern, mechanised mining takes away livelihood based on land but does not replace it with local employment—all estimates show that direct employment in the mining sector has fallen sharply. It provides wealth, but not for local development.
It is now well recognised across the world that wealth generated by the mining sector comes at a substantial development cost, along with environmental damages and economic exclusion of the marginalised. This has also been exhaustively documented in India. In fact, the major mining districts of India are among its poorest and most polluted. Considering the negative externalities of the mining sector, new policies and practices are being explored and implemented across the world to ensure that mineral wealth can be converted into sustainable development benefits for local communities.