New Delhi: A total of 7,54,851 hectares of land has been leased out for mining in the country, says the ‘CSE sixth state of India Environment Report´, highlighting environmental footprints of mining in the states.
De Beers, the South African diamond giant, has acquired prospecting rights to over 8500 sq km of land in Orissa, 679 sq km in AP and 9000 sq km in Chhatisgarh. Rio Tintos has diamond and gold prospecting rights in Madhya Pradesh (7650 sq km) and diamond prospecting rights in MP (7650 sq km) and diamond prospecting rights in Chhattisgarh (6000 sq km). Broken Hill Properties of Australia has acquired nickle, gold and cobalt prospecting rights in MP (2293 sq km).
In the last five years, 134 reconnaisance permits have been issued covering 3,67,882 sq kms and 148 prospecting licenses for major minerals covering 616 kms were approved. A total of 348 new leases to mine only major minerals were granted and 482.3 sq km were opened up for coal mining.
In Karnataka, between 1980 and 2005 around 7558 hectares of land was diverted for mining activities, said Chandra Bhushan, associate director at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Disputing the claim that leasing out lands for mining promotes development, Bhushan pointed out that in Karnataka while the value of minerals produced increased over three years, revenues from mining has remained a bare 0.7-0.8% of the state’s total revenue. Bellary, which produces 20% of the iron ore of the country worth Rs 10,000 crore, pays just Rs100 crore as royalty.
For every 1% that mining contributes to India’s GDP, it displaces three to four times more people than all the developmental projects put together.
Ironically, the country’s rich mining lands are home to the poorest people. Of the 50 top mining districts in the country, 70% falls under the category of most backward districts.