#India – Chaos in the iron age #mustshare


Author(s):
M Suchitra
Sugandh Juneja
Issue Date:
2013-5-31

miningPhotos: M Suchitra

Bellary district of Karnataka and Goa portray India’s very own gold rush. Today, they are the bywords for rampant violation of mining and environmental laws, unscientific depletion of resources and concentration of mining profits in the hands of a few. The plunder has also spread to other iron ore-rich states of the country.

It all started around 2003-04 with China going on a construction spree in the run up to the 2008 Olympics.

China is the principal importer of Indian iron ore and procures 91 per cent of what India exports, according to the Indian Bureau of Mines(Interactive graphic: India’s iron ore exports to various countries over the years) [1]

Before 2003, it used to buy only high-grade iron ore, with at least 58 per cent iron content. But with the Olympics approaching, it started procuring even fines (ore in powder form) and ores with as low as 45 per cent of iron content. The Chinese developed technology that enabled them to mix this low-grade ore with very high-grade ore imported from Brazil and Australia. The Chinese demand also pushed up the international prices of iron ore.

This paved the way for chaos and scams that India’s iron ore-rich states witness today. Everyone hoped for a windfall from the sudden demand. Those who owned mines and those who did not mined without clearances, encroached upon forest and other’s lease areas; and excavated, transported and exported more than permitted. No one stuck to the approved mining plan. They even extracted minerals from waste dumps. It was a colossal plunder in connivance with the state governments, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and IBM. The states lost revenue and the nation its rich resources. In the process of reckless mining, forests were cleared, hills were ravaged, farmlands were destroyed, streams and rivers were polluted, groundwater got contaminated, and the health of people and livestock was compromised.

Government-appointed committees entered the scene and unearthed shocking stories of illegalities and loot of iron ore. They also brought to the fore the intertwined interests of politicians and industry and the failure of the authorities to regulate mining.

Karnataka and Goa were the first ones to come under scanner. In Karnataka, the Lokayukta, the state’s ombudsman, estimated in its July 2011 report the total loss to the state exchequer at Rs 16,085 crore. The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) interim report on Bellary in April 2011 estimated that between 2003 and 2010, Rs 15,245 crore worth of iron ore was illegally exported from the region. It recommended a ban on mining in the region.

Percentage of India’s total iron ore production from different states (darker shade indicates higher production)
Take mouse over states for statistics

 

But in its February 2012 report, CEC backtracked and recommended resuming iron ore mining in Bellary and two other districts subject to conditions. It prescribed a model on the basis of which legality of mines can be categorised and they can be allowed to operate. It also suggested ways to restore the devastated ecology of the region (see ‘Bellary to bleed again’ [2]).

Mining companies in Goa are now going through the tests that Bellary was put through in the last two years. Surveys are under way, data is being compiled, accounts are being audited. Justice M B Shah Commission, constituted by the Centre in 2010 to probe illegal mining of iron and manganese ore in the country, has submitted its report, following which the Goan government has imposed a ban on mining of iron ore in the state. One of the key findings of the Shah Commission is that the state is incurring losses to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore due to illegal iron ore mining. The Supreme Court is also hearing the matter. As CEC is estimating losses from illegal mining in Goa, the mining industry in the state is under constant fear that CEC might recommend the Bellary model for Goa’s mines (see ‘Goa next’ [3]).

The next in line is Odisha. The 2010-11 report of IBM shows Odisha produces the maximum 37 per cent of iron ore in the country, followed by Karnataka and Goa (see graph). The Shah Commission has already heard mining companies and is preparing its report on the extent of illegalities in the state.

The Supreme Court’s Bellary judgement is the first of its kind in a mining case involving illegalities, irregularities, criminalities and corruption of unbelievable magnitude, and sets a precedent for all cases related to illegal mining, be it in Goa, Odisha, Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand.

M Suchitra from Bellary and Sugandh Juneja from Goa analyse whether it is possible to safeguard the environment while keeping the industry happy and if the Supreme Court order for Karnataka can be a one-size-fits-all policy.

Bellary to bleed again

Supreme court eases ban on mining in Bellary. it is doubtful if its ravaged environment can be healed

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/28(33).jpg” width=”457″ height=”343″ border=”0″ />At least eight companies have resumed mining in Bellary

 

 

It’s sleepless nights again for the residents of Kamtur village. Located on the fringes of the Kumaraswamy forest range, one of the six iron ore-bearing mountaintops in Karnataka’s Bellary district, Kamtur is surrounded by seven mines. On April 18, the Supreme Court eased ban on mining in Bellary, which used to be the nerve-centre of India’s illegal iron ore mining till two years ago.

Kamtur residents say they have lost almost everything to the frenzied mining—their fields, crops, grazing land, streams and even a large portion of their common burial ground. “Mines were encroaching upon us from all sides,” says N H Malleswaram, a member of the gram sabha. Most people sold their land to mine owners under threat. Those who managed to retain their land could not grow anything as piles of red iron dust rendered their fields barren. “We want to live without iron dust in our lungs,” says 70-year-old Thimmappa. Like many others in the village, he also suffers from breathing difficulty. The primary health centre in the village is a small, unfinished building where cattle take refuge from searing heat.

The Supreme Court ban in July 2011 had offered them some relief. During the ban, only the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), India’s largest public sector mining company, was operating in their neighbourhood.

ballery

On April 18, the court lifted the ban on 90 iron mines with certain conditions. With this, 108 of the 166 mines in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur may soon be back in business. Eight of the 18 mines that received the court’s approval in September last year, are operating.

The court’s judgement is based on the recommendation of its forest advisory wing, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which probed illegal mining in Bellary and the two other districts. The court had ordered the investigation after Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS), a non-profit in Dharwad, filed a public interest petition in 2009 against the state government for not curbing illegal mining in the region.

While Kamtur and several other villages in the hinterlands of the three iron ore mining districts are worried, mine owners and ore-starved steel industries rejoice over the judgement.

“Since the ban we have been operating at 60-70 per cent capacity due to ore crunch,” says P K Murugan, vice-president of JSW Steel. JSW, one of the largest integrated steel companies in India, requires 60,000 tonnes a day for its plant at Toranagallu in the heart of high-grade iron ore belt of Bellary-Hospet. “We want mining to come back in full swing,” hesays. Srinivasa Rao of Karnataka Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association, says the ban has rendered half of the 70 sponge iron plants sick.

Byword for plunder

What attracts these mining and steel companies to Bellary is its rich deposit of reddish-brown haematite iron ore, a high-quality ore with iron content up to 65 per cent. A 2005 estimate by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) puts the reserves in Bellary at 1,148 million tonnes. Before the ban, Karnataka produced about 40 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), one-fifth of the country’s annual iron ore production. Eighty per cent of this came from Bellary.

But this was just the official figure. The actual production of iron ore through illegal mining was much more and so was illegal export (see ‘Illegal export…’). The sudden spurt in iron ore and steel prices in the international market following China’s demand was showing its impact. Bellary had become the byword for plunder.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/29-1.jpg” width=”450″ height=”218″ border=”0″ />Figures in million tonnes Sources: Central Empowered Committee report, Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education report

“The government took no corrective measures even after the Lokayukta, the state’s Ombudsman, filed a detailed report in 2008 on illegal mining,” says S R Hiremath, president of SPS.

The report brought to light chilling stories of illegalities, irregularities and crimes by the mining mafia in connivance with politicians and bureaucrats. Bellary was transformed into a republic of lawlessness by mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy, his brothers Karunakara Reddy, Somasekhara Reddy, and their close associate B Sriramulu. In 2008, they became part of the BJP-led state government. Janardhan Reddy became tourism minister and miniter in-charge of Bellary, Karunakara Reddy the revenue minister, B Sriramulu the health minister and Somasekhara Reddy headed the state milk development corporation.

Timeline

2003 China boom begins

2003 Karnataka de-reserves 1,162,000 ha for private mining

2004 Report of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) on planning and management of scientific mining in Karnataka. Report gathers dust

2005-10 Demand peaks. Reckless mining and export begins. Loss to state: Rs 16,085 crore

2006 State government appointed Justice U L Bhatt Commission to probe illegal mining. No significant result

2007 Investigation goes to the Lokayukta

2008 Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde submits first report on mining irregularities. Indicts B S Yeddyurappa and many senior officials and companies. Government ignores the report

2009 Non-profit Samaj Parivartana Samudaya files petition in Supreme Court

2010 Supreme Court asks CEC to investigate. Karnataka bans export of iron ore

2011 CEC submits interim report. Lokayukta submits its second report. Then chief minister Yeddyurappa quits. Supreme Court imposes ban on mining, first in Bellary, then extends it to Chitradurga and Tumkur. NMDC exempted. CBI arrests Gali Janardhan Reddy for illegal mining

2012 Supreme Court allows 18 mines to resume operation

April 18, 2013 Allows 90 mines to operate. Cancels 51 leases. Suspends 7. Caps production at 30 million tonnes per annum

There was tremendous political pressure on the mines department to issue new leases. Even when the state’s requirement was 20-25 MTPA, IBM gave permission for 82 MTPA of iron ore. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) sanctioned clearances. According to a statement by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in the Assembly in 2010, between 2003-2010, 30.5 million tonnes of iron ore worth Rs 15,245 crore was plundered from Bellary. The Lokayukta’s final report in July 2011 estimated the state’s loss due to illegal mining was more than Rs 16,000 crore. Yeddyurappa had to step down from the chief minister’s post since he was also indicted in the report. Janardhan Reddy has been behind the bars since September 2011.

Large-scale mining in Bellary led to severe damage to its environment, reveals an environmental impact assessment by the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun. ICFRE did the study in 2011 on behalf of the state government as directed by the Supreme Court. It found 9,500 ha of forests have been cleared for mining in Bellary alone. Air has been severely polluted and groundwater contaminated with iron, manganese and fluorides. A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report released last year reveals increased incidence of tuberculosis, respiratory disorders and decreased livestock population in the region.

In the interim report submitted in April 2011, CEC had expressed shock and concern over the magnitude of legal violations. All mining scams in the country become insignificant in front of Bellary, it observed. In its final reports, CEC changed stance and suggested the court should allow mining.

“CEC seems to be acting as an engine for resuming mining rather than protecting the forest and the environment,” alleges Hiremath.

Conditions apply

For restarting mining, CEC classified mines into A, B and C categories, taking encroachment as the criterion for determining whether their operations were legal or illegal. Forty-five mines which did not encroach or encroached in small ways outside their sanctioned area come under category A. Category B mine are those which encroached an area up to 10 per cent of the lease area through mining pits and up to 15 per cent by way of waste dumping. This category includes seven mines along the inter-state boundary destroyed by Gali’s mines in Andhra Pradesh. The court has allowed all category A and 63 out of 72 category B mines to resume operations. It has suspended the seven leases till the boundary is fixed by the Surveyor General of India. Category C mines are those where the leaseholder has encroached on more than 10 per cent of the lease area through mining pits and over 15 per cent by dumping waste. The court ordered cancelling 51 leases, including all 49 category C leases.

“The category C leases are cancelled because they were involved in flagrant violation of the Forest Conservation Act or mining in others’ lease areas,” the court observed in the judgement. The cancelled leases will be auctioned through international tenders.

“This categorisation is faulty,” says Hiremath. It takes encroachment as the only criterion for determining whether operations were legal or illegal. It is arbitrary to measure the extent of encroachment as percentage of the sanctioned lease area, instead of the actual encroached area, points out P Vishnu Kamath, co-petitioner in the case. Kamath says there should be only legal and illegal categories, decided on the basis of encroachment, the quantity of ore extracted by leaseholders and other illegalities like mining without clearances, evading royalty and subletting leases.

In fact, the Supreme Court in its order of September 28, 2012 had asked CEC to constitute a committee and assess within three months the actual quantity of ore illegally extracted by each leaseholder. “CEC has not constituted the committee so far,” says Hiremath.

Moreover, category A leaseholders are not holy cows, Kamath says. Many of them have leases in other two categories. Minerals Enterprises Ltd, the first company that resumed operation after the ban, has two leases in category B. State-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd, which has been named in Lokayukta reports, has one mine in category A, but two in category B and one in category C. “This is as if you murder somebody in Andhra Pradesh and claim to be innocent in Karnataka,” says Kamath.

Quite naturally, category A leaseholders are happy. Category B leaseholders heave a sigh of relief and prefer not to comment on categorisation. Those who come under category C are crestfallen. They argue that the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act has not fixed any percentage for assessing encroachment, and hence such categorisation violates the Act. Anil Lad, owner of VSL Mining Company and the newly elected MLA from Bellary, says he will file a review petition against putting his mine in category C. Tapal Ganesh, a small-time mine owner, the only one who resisted Gali’s diktats, sounds depressed. His mine falls among the seven suspended by the court. “I do not think I will be able to start my family business in near future,” says he. He was physically attacked by Gali’s goons when in 2010 he tried to give statements to CEC.

Industry needs protected

To meet the state’s requirement, the court has capped the amount that can be extracted from the region—25 MTPA from Bellary and 5 MTPA from Chitradurga and Tukmur. It says the ore produced should be used only by the steel and other industries in Karnataka and neighbouring areas. The judgement does not ban export, but says only those ore rejected by the domestic industries can be exported. It has also lifted the embargo on issuing new mining leases.

To avoid illegalities, the court has asked the leaseholders who have been allowed to operate to get all clearances afresh. Besides, they will have to implement reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan in a time-bound manner. The main thrust of R&R plan is afforestation, developing safety zone, green belt, soil conservation through controlling surface runoff by building retaining walls, check dams, rock-fill dams and stabilisation of accumulated waste dumps. ICFRE is preparing R&R plan for each mine and has done it for 70 leases.

Category A mines can start mining after initiating R&R plan and after the monitoring committee, set up by the Supreme Court in 2011 to carry out e-auction of the ore, certifies its progress. Category B mines will have to complete R&R plan before resuming work. Though leases of category C mines have been cancelled, they will also have to implement R&R plan. “Nobody can escape from implementing R&R,” says Dipak Sarmah, additional principal chief conservator of forests and chairperson of the monitoring committee.

image

  • Net Present Value (NPV) Rs 8-10 lakh/ha of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose. This is a one-time payment
  • Afforestation cost: Rs 1.25 lakh/ha. For this mine owner identifies revenue land equal to lease area. The forest department does afforestation
  • Safety zone: Rs 1.25 lakh/ha. Miners have to develop a 7.5-metre green belt along the boundary of the lease inside the lease area
  • Royalty: 10 per cent of the net sales value. This was abysmally small till 2008 at Rs 19 per tonne of fines and Rs 27 per tonne of lumps
  • Forest Development Tax (FDT): 12 per cent of net sales value. The tax was introduced in 2008. Mining companies moved the high court, which ordered to pay 6 per cent tax till the case is finalised. Case pending.
  • Value added tax (VAT): 2 per cent of net sales value
  • Production cost/tonne: Rs 300
  • Average price of iron ore/tonne: Rs 2,500
  • Profit calculated: 500-600%
  • After starting e-auction in 2011, royalty, FDT and VAT have been transferred to buyers

Expenses of implementing R&R will vary from plan to plan and will be between Rs 5 crore and Rs 20 crore. Besides implementing R&R plan, the court asked category B and C leaseholders to pay penalties: Rs 5 crore for each ha encroached by way of mine pits and Rs 1 crore for each ha encroached for dumping overburden initially. Kamath says it is paltry compared to the 500-600 per cent profit margin in the business (see ‘Economy of mining…’).

The court has asked the monitoring committee to retain 10 per cent of the sales proceeds of old stock of A and B leaseholders and the entire sales proceeds of the old stock of C leaseholders. The sales proceeds, together with the penalties and the amount received through auctioning category C mines, will go to a special purpose vehicle (SPV), called Karnataka Mineral Rich Region Development Corporation (KMRDC). It will implement an environment management plan of Rs 30,000 crore for 30 years for mining-affected zones. The projects include health, education, water supply, employment and biodiversity conservation “for ensuring inclusive growth of the area surrounding the mining leases”. Ironically, the fund will also be spent on setting up facilities like conveyor belts, railway sidings and widening of roads, which can be used for transporting iron ore.

“We have apprehensions about SPV,” says Hiremath. “It seems its special purpose is to take mining forward rather than compensating for the environmental devastation.”

Besides, at a production rate of 25 MTPA, the iron ore deposits of Bellary will be exhausted within 40 to 50 years. The nation will not be able to pass on its rich resources to the next generation. “This is against the principle of intergenerational equity,” says Hiremath. In fact, In 2010, while illegal mining was at its peak, the state government was signing MoUs with steel companies, including Tata Metaliks, Arcelor Mittal India, JSW Steel, Posco India. The industries have promised to invest Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

Sagar Dhara, director of Hyderabad non-profit Cerena Foundation, says ICFRE and CEC should have quantified the environmental damage in monetary terms before recommending resumption of mining. Cerena Foundation did a study in Sandur taluk of Bellary on behalf of the petitioners and estimated a loss of Rs 200 crore a year in agriculture alone. A moratorium on mining should have been declared for a few years till the physical and biological reclamation got completed, he says.

A Bellary without mining

Amlan Aditya Biswas, deputy commissioner of Bellary, says the ban did not affect the district’s economy much. Bellary has been an agrarian economy. At the time of the ban, some 10,300 people were employed in 70 active mines in the district. After companies retrenched workers, local residents who had joined the mining force returned to their traditional livelihoods (see ‘Onion v ore’).

Onion v ore

In Bhujanganagar village in Sandur valley, farmer Bharmappa got a bumper harvest of onion despite this year’s severe drought. “I harvested 44 tonnes of onion from one hectare,” he says, standing tall amid his farm hands.

“When mining was in full swing, yield had gone down to 24 tonnes,” says he. Besides, it was difficult to get farm hands then. The fertile valley is known for its vegetables and onions. But following the mining boom many had leased out their farms for stocking iron ore and for mining.

For the rest, it was difficult to grow crops due to iron dust. Since the ban, residents have returned to growing onions, maize and millets.

The state also did not incur any revenue loss during the ban. “Instead, revenue increased even when production came down,” says H R Srinivas, director of the states mines department in Bengaluru. Before the ban, IBM decided the price of iron ore and it used be around Rs 1,300 a tonne, he says. Since the ban, sale is done through e-auction by the monitoring committee and the rate was fixed by NMDC. “Average price rose to Rs 2,500 a tonne,” explains Srinivasa, who is also the convener of the committee. Transport was the sector severely hit by the ban. Many had bought tipper trucks on credit during the boom to transport ore to ports in other states. “Every tipper truck employed at least three people,” says B Badewali, president of Hospet Truckers Association. With the ban about 3,000 tipper trucks are now lying idle. Repaying has become difficult the owners and banks have started loan recovery procedures.

In the last 20 months, in the absence of reckless mining, forests and streams have started showing healthy signs. “We have spotted a few sloth bears and a rare species of snake that was seen in India only once before,” says S Manikandan, deputy conservator of forests.

Despite the court’s approval, it will not be easy for many companies to resume mining since they are fighting criminal cases in lower courts among themselves. The CBI is also investigating a few cases related to illegal mining. The court has clearly said its judgement will not affect the ongoing investigations. The petitioners also plan to approach the court again to review the judgement. They had asked for legal actions against all those involved in illegal mining, including those named in Laokayukta’s reports, and had prayed for two independent committees, one with powers to prosecute and the other with expertise to monitor R&R plan and SPV. “The judgment has not addressed many of our concerns,” says Kamath.

Goa next

Will the Bellary prescription work for Goa?

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/33(25).jpg” width=”457″ height=”343″ border=”0″ />Sesa Goa’s Bicholim mine (Photo: Sugandh Juneja)

The Codli mines in South Goa resemble large amphitheatres flanked by flights of steps. Till a few months ago, excavators and earthmovers could be seen here tearing into the crust to scoop out red earth that contained high concentrations of iron ore. Tipper trucks would then transport it to Murmugao and Panaji ports from where ships ferried the ore to destinations like China. Today the whir of turning wheels is missing in Codli. The mines, owned by one of the country’s biggest mining firms Sesa Goa, are waiting like 138 others for the Supreme Court order to resume mining.

The ban is not only on mining. Companies cannot even sell their iron ore stocks. “We have three million tonnes of iron ore lying but cannot sell it until the court allows,” says Joseph Coelho, manager of the Codli mines.

goa [4]

Mining activities had come to a halt in Goa much before the Supreme Court ban. The state government dealt the first blow. In September 2012, days after a commission headed by Justice M B Shah submitted its report to Parliament citing illegalities in all mines in Goa, the government temporarily suspended mining activities in the state. That month, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued a direction under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, to suspend environmental clearances of all 139 mines in Goa.

The Supreme Court order came in October 2012, following a petition by Goa Foundation, a non-profit working on ecological issues. It ordered that the mine leases, found violating the norms by the Shah Commission, should be suspended and asked its Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to investigate the illegalities.

Timeline

October 6, 2011
Goa’s Public Accounts Committee says almost half of active mines in the state are illegal. Two-thirds of the mines in forest areas do not have clearances and have felled 140,000 trees

August 24, 2012
Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) writes letter to Goa government, saying overburden dump within lease area should be regulated in terms of approved mining plan; those outside need approval from mines ministry or a Central authority

August 31, 2012
Goa government writes letter to IBM, saying removal of ore from overburden dump has been stopped since September 2011

September 7, 2012
M B Shah Commission report, citing illegalities in all mines in Goa, tabled in Parliament. Union mines ministry writes to Goa government, asking it to immediately restrict removal of overburden dumps outside lease area till appropriate mechanism is evolved

September 10, 2012
Goa suspends mining operations in all mine leases

September 14, 2012
Union environment ministry issues notice to cancel environmental clearance of all 139 mine leases in Goa

October 3, 2012
Goa government sets up R M S Khandeparkar Committee to investigate Shah Commission report

October 5, 2012
Supreme Court accepts petition by non-profit Goa Foundation and directs its Central Empowered Committee to look into mining illegalities in Goa

December 7, 2012
Central Empowered Committee submits its interim report

March 11, 2013
Directorate of Mines and Geology and the state government launch a scheme, Mining affected/impacted relief scheme, 2013, to provide financial assistance to people who have been affected by ban

Goa has also set up its own inquiry committee under retired judge R M S Khandeparkar to investigate the Shah Commission report.

Justifying the new committee, Goa’s deputy chief minister Francis Dsouza says, “The question is whether the apex court should have stopped all the mines. Legal mines should not have been shut as the livelihood of a large number of people is at stake.” Goa today finds itself caught between livelihood concerns and sustainable use of resources. With no solution in sight, the state could be handed down a model recently introduced 400 kilometres away in Karnataka.

There is a constant fear that the model pronounced in the Supreme Court judgement for reopening mines in Bellary could be used in Goa.

R K Verma, principal secretary of Goa’s mines department, says Bellary lost two years trying to take a decision on ways to resume mining. A similar term could be disastrous for Goa. Verma offers an alternative way: “We will book all illegal people, but legal operations should be allowed to resume as soon as possible.”

Atul Jhadav, president of Goa Barge Owners’ Association, explains: If the Bellary model is applied to Goa, most mines would fall in category C. The Supreme Court has cancelled leases of category C mines in Bellary because of highest number of illegalities, including dumping of overburden (soil removed to extract the minerals) outside the mine lease areas. Most mines in Goa dump their overburden outside the lease area, Jhadav says.

Besides, mining is the backbone of Goan economy, says Nilesh Cabral, MLA from Curchorem in South Goa.

Dharamaduda village is a few kilometres from Codli mines. About 80 per cent of the 12,000-odd population in this village earned their livelihood from these mines. Apart from direct employment, several residents in Dharamaduda own tipper trucks that ferried iron ore from the mines. Some worked as drivers and helpers in the trucks, while the others opened shops and eateries around the mines. Guru B Gaonkar, sarpanch of Dharamdauda, says a petrol pump set up in the village to fuel trucks used to pay tax to the village panchayat, depending on its business. It hardly contributes now. “We understand that mining creates pollution and traffic problems, but it is a trade off we are ready to accept,” says Gaonkar. He wants mines to be reopened as people from his village are migrating to distant places in search of work.

State government figures show in 2009-10, revenue from mining contributed 13.5 per cent to the state’s GDP. This is on a par with the hotel and the tourism industry. This apart, the industry claims that mining provides direct and indirect employment to nearly 300,000 people, or half of the state’s workforce.

Those who have lost their livelihoods now question why they are being punished when the fault lies elsewhere. “We were never involved in any illegal activity,” says William D’costa of Barge Owners’ Association. Most barges have loans of Rs 5 crore to Rs 6 crore attached to them. “Without mining we are unable to pay installments to the banks that are now sending us notices,” he adds. The association has written to the Reserve Bank of India and the state government to grant relief in loan repayment.

 

The ban has impacted almost every household in Goa because the breadwinners are associated either with mining or the Murmugao Port Trust, says P M Pandiyan, chairperson of the trust. Since iron ore exports comprised 80 per cent of the port’s operation, commercial activity has come to a standstill. Last year, this profit-making venture accrued a loss of Rs 108 crore. It was its first loss in history. The trust has asked the state to step in, Pandiyan informs.

The stakeholders of Goa’s iron ore mining sector do not want to give up easily. They have united to form the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF).

Christopher Fonseca of GMPF says 30 per cent of the state’s population has been jobless for eight months. “Environment is important but the government should think about our livelihoods too.” The state government has offered a year-long monetary compensation scheme for those who lost their livelihood because of the ban (see ‘Cushion for ban’).

The river linking schemes

In March, Goa’s chief minister announced a year-long relief scheme by passing a notification. Targeted only at a few taluks affected due to ban on mining, the scheme recognises that the ban has resulted in an “economic crisis” for those employed directly. It estimates that 25,000 families have been rendered jobless. Under the scheme, family of a tipper truck owner, engaged in mining, will receive Rs 8,000 per month. For a second truck, the family gets Rs 4,000 per month. The money will be released retrospectively from October 2012, when the ban was imposed, till September 2013. People who have lost mining jobs will be paid Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000 a month based on their salary slab. People employed in mining-related activities will receive between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000 a month. They will have to establish that they were engaged in such activities for at least three years as of September 2012. The money will be released retrospectively from January till December 2013. So far, the state government has received 5,000 applications

Subhash Phaldesai, MLA from mining belt of Sanguem, says this is not enough. Claude Alvares, executive director of Goa Foundation, says the government should instead compensate those who have been displaced after their farmlands have been destroyed by pollution from mining. “The mineral does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people of Goa. But our assets are being destroyed, while a handful make merry,” he adds.

Plunder, then ponder

The reason for Alvares’ resentment can be found in the Shah Commission’s report. It points to a number of illegalities, including mining without licence, mining outside lease area, production of ore beyond permitted capacity, and illegal transportation. CEC’s interim report submitted in December 2012 reiterates most of these findings but presses for a detailed survey.

One of the most serious concerns recorded by both the Shah Commission and CEC is a mismatch between production and export figures of iron ore from Goa. Data submitted to CEC by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and exporter’s association shows about 40 million tonnes of iron ore was exported illegally over a five-year period (see ‘Illegality in excess’ on p35). Mining companies say the additional exported ore came from overburden dumps.

Earlier, IBM classified ore with less than 55 per cent iron content as overburden, which does not have much market demand. In 2009, it lowered the threshold value to 45 per cent. Overburden does not meet IBM threshold but it may still contain a significant amount of iron. Royalty need not be paid for overburden if it is not sold, says Mineral Concession Rules of 1960. But if it is sold or exported then a tax has to be paid to the state. A senior official of IBM says before selling this overburden, the state should be informed, which should ideally verify the quality and quantity of iron content and ascertain the royalty to be paid.

Industry insiders say the state mines department usually does not inspect what the industry sells from the overburden. This gives the industry the leeway to export good quality iron ore as overburden and evade royalty. Mining companies in Goa used this leeway to benefit from the soaring demand in the international market that peaked in run up to the Beijing Olympics and continued even after the Games.

A check on illegal shipping of minerals came only in 2010, after the state government made it mandatory for the companies to get a no-objection certificate from the mines department to export iron ore after paying royalty.

Overburden of controversies

Such illegality is at the helm of a recent spat between the state and the Centre over the authority to give permission for export of overburden.

MoEF and the Union Ministry of Mines (MoM) claim it is the Centre’s prerogative to give permission for export of overburden. Responding to one such claim in March 2011, Goa opined that environmental clearance is not required to remove minerals from overburden dumps. But in October 2011, MoM wrote back asking for necessary measures to prevent passing off of illegally extracted ore as overburden.

In July 2012, MoM again wrote to the state government that overburden handling, or removal of ore from overburden, for exports has an environmental impact and hence requires environmental clearance. The Goa government replied that overburden handling was stopped in September 2011.

On the very day Shah Commission’s report was tabled in Parliament, MoM asked the state to ban removal of ore from overburden lying outside the lease area till an appropriate mechanism is evolved. This points to the fact that the authorities, both at the Centre and the state, were aware of these illegalities.

S Sridhar, executive director of Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association, has another concern. IBM does not allow mine lease holders to store overburden in mineralisation zone (areas that contain minerals). Given that mine leases in Goa are right next to each other, the only option is to keep them outside the lease area, he adds.

Most mine owners in Goa started operating during the Portuguese period. Under the Portuguese Colonial Mining law the maximum size of a Goa mine is 100 ha and the mines are contiguous.

IBM officials explain that they discourage dumping on mineralisation zone as it leads to locking up of minerals for future. Verma says dumping outside the lease area requires permission from the revenue department because of changes in land use. “In some cases this permission was obtained, but most ignored this requirement.”

There is no way out for the mine owners in Goa. Ambar Timblo, managing director of Fomento Resources, says the authorities were aware of the problem all along. “We always show our overburden dumps whether inside or outside the mine correctly to MoEF, IBM and the state pollution control board.”

Down To Earth analysed a few environmental clearances granted by MoEF. None of the clearances mentioned whether the overburden should be stored within the mine lease area. All it says is “overburden shall be stacked at earmarked dump site(s) only and shall not be kept active for long periods”.

Whose buffer is it anyway?

The Wildlife Conservation Strategy of January 2002 states that area within 10 km of the boundary of a national park or a sanctuary should be notified as eco-fragile zone. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) asked states to submit their proposals notifying these areas. But in 2005, the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) decided that the eco-sensitive zone should be site-specific, following which MoEF again informed states about the change. In 2006 the Supreme Court ordered that all projects within 10 km of national parks and sanctuaries should go to NBWL for clearance, until the eco-sensitive zones were notified. Supreme Court’s advisory body, Central Empowered Committee, stepped in and classified the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country into six categories based on their area (see table). MoEF disagrees with this classification and has stuck to its original 10 km definition. R K Verma, principal secretary of Goa’s mines department, says, “The buffer zone should be site-specific and wherever possible, should be confined to natural barriers like rivers.”

Even if one goes by Verma’s definition, there is ambiguity over who is the competent authority to approve projects in buffer zones. MoEF in May 2011, wrote to Goa’s Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), clarifying that NBWL is the only authority to approve mining in the buffer zone. Approvals for mining within buffer without placing them before NBWL also violate the 2006 Supreme Court order. But more than 100 iron ore mining leases, including Sesa Goa’s Codli mines, have clearance only from CWW, though they fall in the buffer zone. “Our interpretation of the order in terms of competent authority was CWW. So we approached it for approval. Now with MoEF saying 10 km, this is clearly a grey area. This needs to be resolved urgently so that we know where we stand,” says Ambar Timblo of Fomento Resources.

image

Now the state mining department has asked all mining companies to declare dumps with location, quantity and quality of the stock. “We estimate that there is 700 million tonnes of overburden. The department will now scrutinise these in detail,” says Verma. The Goa government now plans to auctions this overburden. From ecological point of view, overburden dump handling is important in Goa as its mining belt is close to major wildlife areas.

Eco-sensitive enough?

The iron ore-rich eastern Goa is also home to six wildlife sanctuaries and a national park. The CEC report says MoEF has cleared 20 mining leases within the sanctuaries. This contravenes the February 2000 order of the Supreme Court, which prohibits mining leases within national parks and sanctuaries, and applies retrospectively. Violating the December 2006 order of the apex court, MoEF has approved another 23 mines within one kilometre of the sanctuaries. CEC, in its interim report, has recommended quashing all the 43 permissions, identifying those responsible for the approvals and initiating action against them.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/35-1(1).jpg” width=”457″ height=”293″ border=”0″ />All figures are in Million Tonnes (Source: CEC (Interim) Report)It is not just MoEF, the state is also to be blamed for such illegalities. Of the 120 mining leases cleared by MoEF, 112 are located within 10 km of protected wildlife habitats. Many of them have approvals only from Goa’s Chief Wildlife Warden. This is when the apex court in its 2006 order had observed that the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) of MoEF had to peruse and approve all environmental clearances for projects located within 10 km of protected wildlife habitats. There is confusion over the competent authority to clear activities in this zone (see ‘Whose buffer is it anyway?’).

CEC’s interim report states “MoEF by its various actions and inactions de facto ensured mining operations in a large number of leases continue to take place in violation of directions of this Hon’ble Court.” CEC thus recommends that all environmental clearances granted to mines within the 10 km buffer be suspended and scrutinised by NBWL. The court can then decide their fate based on NBWL’s recommendation.

The way ahead

What does Goa have to look forward to given that illegal mining has taken its toll not only on its ecology but also on economy?

Mining in Goa may not start for the next five years, say Alvares. “We have foolishly stuck to our heritage of mining.” He says if Goa ends up like Karnataka, mining should be capped at 10 MTPA. Timblo says it is unlikely that production will start soon and the cap on production will be the new model of mining in Goa. Managing director of Sesa Goa, P K Mukherjee, refuses to comment on this subjudice case but says his only concern is about his employees. Verma hopes that conditions are not too stringent, like in Bellary.

CEC has recommended a model similar to that of Bellary, where an environment impact assessment and reclamation and rehabilitation plan need to be prepared by Indian Council for Forest Research and Education. It has also suggested a block-wise cap for mining.

But is the Bellary formula the right template for the rest of the country? Can it bring order to the iron ore mining industry?

With inputs from Srestha Banerjee

Bellary case file

Will it help sound mining or mining companies?

imageIllustration: Anirban Bora

The Bellary case—and perhaps now the Goa case—is setting a precedent for mining regulations in the country. It will define how the offenders are judged, how serious is their crime and how they should be penalised. In other words, it is developing the mining penal code for the country. It is setting the framework for future environmental management, including the limits on how much mineral extraction is “sustainable”. In addition, the judgements set the framework for how local people will “benefit” from mining. Therefore, in many ways these decisions are overarching and are definitely needed as the current regulatory system has been decimated. The question that needs to be discussed is whether the judgements go far enough in deciding the sustainable framework for mining in the country. Or, indeed, if these are in the right direction.

Mining Penal Code

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has classified mining into three categories—A, B and C—taking encroachment as the basis of the nature of offence committed. To judge the quantum of offence, CEC has taken the ratio of the lease area of each mine to respective encroachment.

Category A: No major encroachment outside the lease area. This does not mean this category is “clean” on other accounts. The mine operations are allowed after the reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan is started.

Category B: Encroachment up to 10 per cent of the mine lease area for mining pit and dumping of waste in area up to 15 per cent of the lease area. They have to complete R&R and pay some fines before resuming operations.

Category C: Encroachment more than 10 per cent of the lease area and dumping of waste in area, which is more than 15 per cent of the lease area. Their lease will be cancelled and then auctioned for captive use.

The bottom line, after all the rigmarole and more than two years of judicial scrutiny, is that all mines, big and small, big offenders or small offenders, will continue in some form or another. The problem with this manner of categorising penalties is threefold. One, that CEC has defined the “nature” of offence in a very limited manner, which does not take into account the environmental fallout or the cumulative impact of the mines in the region. In this way, when mining reopens—first A, then B and then C—it could well be business as usual. The best that is being offered is that there will be an R&R plan, which will take into account “afforestation, check dams, stablisation of waste dumps, soil conservation, rainwater harvesting and use of modern mining technologies”. There is nothing to suggest that these methods will add up to sustainable mining, even if a cap is put on the total mining that will be allowed.

Two, this rulebook could well end up incentivising large mines to commit large offence. The simple fact is that the Bellary formula will work against small mines, as it is based on quantifying the extent of violation as a percentage of the mine lease area. This will end up “legalising” non-compliance of large mines. Mines with large lease areas, for instance of 1,000 hectares, could have encroached 100 ha and still be in legal B category.

Three, the issue of illegal iron ore extraction and sales has been ignored by CEC in defining illegality. In 2012, the Supreme Court directed CEC to assess within three months the actual quantity of illegal iron ore that was sold, so that companies could be fined. But this has not happened. So mines have opened and many more will open soon, and all the talk of recovering ill-gotten funds may well be brushed under the carpet. Small wonder the mining barons are once again in power in Bellary.

C for captive

Allowing C category mines in the future once they are auctioned for captive use presumes illegal mining will thus remain in check. But the fact is captive mines discount natural resource, allow transfer pricing and promote poor mining practices, as is evident from cases across the country. Worse, it will distort the market by creating certain companies who will have access to cheap iron ore through captive mines, while others will have to buy ore from the market at higher costs. It is also clear that companies with cheap raw material are not driven to innovate or to be frugal and efficient in their use.

For instance, the recent rating of Indian steel companies done by Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment found that the three top-rated companies did not have captive mines for iron ore—their cost of raw material was high and they invested in efficiency, which in turn brought down emissions. Companies with captive mines—Tata Steel, Jamshedpur; Jindal Steel and Power Limited, Raigarh; and SAIL, Rourkela—were rated low in environmental performance.

Unscientific cap

The Dehradun-based Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) has recommended in its environmental impact assessment (EIA) done at the behest of the Supreme Court that there should be a “cap” on the quantum of iron ore mined in the Bellary region. The Supreme Court has endorsed the recommended “cap” of 30 million tonnes per annum (MTPA)—25 MTPA in Bellary and 5 MTPA in neighbouring Chitradurga and Tumkur districts. The “cap” is not based on environmental or socio-economic factors. Instead, the ICFRE report mentions that it is suggesting this limit “since the annual iron ore requirement of Karnataka is around 30 MTPA and majority of its demand is met from Bellary”.

This sets a bad precedence for environmental governance and has huge implications for inter-state matters. The limit is unscientific and is not based on cumulative impact assessment, taking into account the carrying capacity of this eco-sensitive forested region. It would also signal that states should “mine” for their own captive consumption—mine and only mine.

SPV for community

The Supreme Court has directed that a special purpose vehicle (SPV)—the Karnataka Mineral Rich Region Development Corporation—be set up under the chairmanship of the state chief secretary. The SPV will collect the fines, penalties, money raised from the auction of C category mines and 10 per cent of the sale price of all iron ore sold from Bellary, and will implement projects for socio-economic development and mining infrastructure. In other words, a parallel government is being proposed to the district administration. It is not clear how this recommendation is in consonance with what is being discussed currently in Parliament. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011, presently with Parliament, includes provisions for benefit sharing and local area development. Will the SPV model be in contravention of the Bill or will it set a precedent?

No accountability

There are four key departments that can be held most accountable for the extent of illegal mining in Bellary (and Goa). One, the forest department as it turned a blind eye to the takeover of its land. Two, the state mining department, which gave leases and clearances with total indifference. Three, Nagpur-based Indian Bureau of Mines, which gave permissions to increase mining from 20 MTPA to 80 MTPA without any care or scrutiny for impacts. And four, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which gave environmental and forest clearances to anyone and everyone without any assessment.

The fact is government officers who “connived”, “consented” or simply did nothing to stop the rot have not been held accountable. The worst part is that today these departments—represented in the Supreme Court monitoring committee—have become all-powerful and are back in the business to decide the fate of Bellary without any institutional reform.

The Bellary model does not provide the design of an effective institutional framework for environmentally sound and regulated mining in the country. The model, instead, once again depends on committees of the court to oversee management, which is at best a short-term solution. In this way, the Bellary case does not mean the end of illegal mining or a new dawn for sustainable mining in the country.


 

Why Orissa mining may not go the Goa way


By MEERA MOHANTY, ET Bureau | 14 May, 2013,

When the Supreme Court reopened the iron-ore mining door some more in Karnataka, miners in Orissa breathed a Rs 50,000 crore sigh of relief.
Three weeks ago, when the Supreme Court reopened the iron-ore mining door some more in Karnataka, miners in Orissa breathed a Rs 50,000 crore sigh of relief. Also in the dock for some offences of a similar nature, Orissa’s iron-ore miners, who produce a third of this mineral that is critical to steel, had been dreading their fate, which lay in the hands of a Central government panel.

The last time the Shah Commission—whose remit is to study violations in iron ore and manganese mining in India and recommend changes— submitted a fact-finding report, made public in September 2012, it led to all iron-ore mining in Goa grind to a halt. So, as it prepared to submit its report on Orissa, by July, there was a gnawing sense of fear among miners, user companies, and government functionaries and politicians at both the Centre and the state levels, that this eastern state could go the Goa way.

For companies with steel units in the neighbourhood, like Tata SteelBSE -2.23 %, Jindal SteelBSE -1.06 % and Power and SAIL, it would mean losing access to their key input. For the Centre, it would mean another blow in its efforts to shore up industrial growth. For Orissa, it would mean the loss of its economic engine.

Most of all, for iron-ore miners, it would mean the loss of a lucrative business stream. Already smarting because of a Rs 65,000 crore recovery claim raised by Orissa, they were bracing for the worst. But now, feels senior advocate Ashok Parija, who is contesting these claims on behalf of some Orissa miners: “Mining will not stop. After this (Karnataka) order, it is clear that most leases here beat the Karnataka test.”

The ‘Karnataka test’ is a 10% straying limit. Cancelling 43% of iron-ore leases in Karnataka, the SC allowed the remaining, which had not strayed beyond 10% of their boundary (15% in certain cases), to reopen. “The nature of violations in Orissa is different in nature,” adds a member who has worked closely with the central empowered committee (CEC), the panel doing the fact-finding for the SC on illegal mining. “Further, unlike Karnataka or Goa, Orissa, for whatever reason, has been doing its bit to correct the situation,” he adds, on the condition of anonymity.

THE STATE CLEANS UP

Since 2010, much before the Shah Commission was set up, the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa has been putting in place checks and balances to detect illegal mining. Even the CEC noted this in its April 2010 report to the SC: it said that “…the state has taken corrective steps, though rather belatedly…”, but also added that “serious shortcomings” still remain. Orissa asked miners without valid clearances to stop mining. It initiated inquiries against companies allegedly doing illegal mining and suspended several state government officials. “Since 2009, we have suspended nearly 200 mines working on a ‘deemed extension’ (a much abused contingency provision for renewals) without statutory clearances,” says Deepak Mohanty, director of mines, Orissa.

The state government, further, made public data on leases, permits and status. It made registration compulsory for traders and truckers, removed stockyards outside a 40 km radius of a mine, issued e-permits that enabled real-time tracking of all consignments and asked the railways to check permits before allowing rakes to be loaded. “That is one kind of theft that would go completely unaccounted: trucks that loaded 20 tonnes, declaring half as much, and bribing their way through weigh bridges manned by class four employees,” says Rabi Das, whose petition in the Supreme Court brought the CEC to Orissa.

According to Das, the state had not turned a new leaf; its hand was forced when the case— now famously known as the ‘RBT case’ (after Ram Bahadur Thakur, the lease owner)—of two people claiming rights to mine a piece of land neither had the approval for rocked the state assembly. Since both the accused were reportedly associated with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the state had to initiate an inquiry. “If this (the RBT case) hadn’t blown up, it would have been difficult to take action,” says a former state mining official, on the condition of anonymity.

Why Orissa mining may not go the Goa way

While those corrective measures may yet avert a shutdown, three other subsequent steps taken by Orissa—many say to save its face with the Shah Commission—has caused recrimination among miners, hurled the state into a legal standoff with the Centre and cast shadows of uncertainty in iron-ore mining in Orissa. And untangling all this will be a long, legal battle.

…AND CRACKS DOWN

In October 2012, in the backdrop of a shutdown in Goa mining and the Supreme Court meaning business in Karnataka, Orissa stunned everyone with three big decisions. One, it asked 204 mines in the state to pay fines amounting to Rs 65,000 crore for extracting more iron ore than they had permission for in the last 10 years. Two, the state barred the private sector from all new mineral leases, reserving everything for its own Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), which too had been fined Rs 8,700 crore. Three, it made it conditional on miners whose licences were awaiting renewals to supply 50% of their iron ore to steel units in the state and only then sell outside; it also declared that such leases on second or subsequent renewal can only retain reserves for 30 years of captive use.

According to a director of a large merchant miner that has challenged the fines and the captive clause, the policy moves don’t hold. “On the one hand, you practically restrict all production. On the other, you insist material should not leave the state, which firstly isn’t constitutional. Is the state ready for a hundred steel plants?” he says, not wanting to be named.

On the face of it, the battle lines seem to be drawn around the Rs 65,000 crore fine. On one side is the Orissa government. On the other side are the miners, who feel the basis and quantum of the fine are misplaced, and the Centre, which feels the Naveen Patnaikgovernment is overstepping its jurisdiction.

According to Orissa miners, some of the richest in India, unlike the worst of Karnataka mining offenders, they were not stealing from land they didn’t have permission to mine on. Further, they add, what the state is terming over-production is actually allowed under the rules. The Centre supports them on this, citing the 20% mark-up over the mining plan approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) that is permissible. Says Mohanty: “It (the Centre) said that, in 71 of the 104 cases, where there was a slight increase beyond the IBMlimits, subsequent mining schemes in each and every case had been approved, and thus the excess regularised.”

Parija adds this would hold even on the ’10% Karnataka rule’. “Goa or Karnataka mines are 5-10 hectare mines, Orissa’s are 25-1,000 hectares,” he says. “A 10% deviation will be huge, and that couldn’t have happened because most of these leases are adjacent.”

The Centre also argues that the clause under which Orissa has claimed the fines—Section 21(5) of the Mines and Mineral (Regulation and Development) (MMDR) Act 1957—applies to production outside a mine owner’s area, not excess production within. It has advised Orissa not to colelct the fines while 20 miners await the order of a Central tribunal on the matter.

Any resolution on the matter will take time. “We have only issued show cause notices. Hearings have to be completed so that the amount is reconciled. Only then can a formal notice be issued,” says Mohanty. The tribunal too is likely to wait for a formal notice, says a senior official in the Central ministry.

This is creating a piquant solution for miners as the state is also reviewing their applications for renewals. Mohanty says 337 mines are on ‘deemed extensions’; further, of these, only 58 have all statutory clearances. The state has said that, in deciding on each renewal, it will consider the past history of the occupant, including alleged irregularities committed by it.​

Why Orissa mining may not go the Goa way

HOW IT UNRAVELLED

Watching all this from the sidelines is the Shah Commission, led by MB Shah, the retired Supreme Court judge. His second-in-command is UV Singh, the pugnacious forest officer of Karnataka whose defiant documentation of the mining operations of the Reddy brothers formed the basis of the state Lokayukta’s report.

The Commission’s term ends on July 16, and the Orissa report, for which it ended its public meetings on April 21, will be its last for now. Such is its perceived influence and importance that one view is that Orissa acted against the miners so that the Shah Commission might cut it some slack, and events might not spiral out of its control, as they did in Goa.

In October 2012, Goa went into a tailspin after the Shah Commission report, which said that Rs 35,000 crore of illegal mining had happened in the state, was tabled in Parliament. This was the trigger for a public interest litigation (PIL) to be filed by an NGO called Goa Foundation in the SC, which banned all iron-ore mining in Goa.

Rajesh Verma, Orissa steel and mines secretary, asserts the state’s actions were proactive, and not reactive. He points out the notification for the Shah Commission came on November 22, 2010, while Orissa issued the order for its inquiry on August 25. The terms of the Orissa probe was to inspect how much each mine in five minerals— iron ore, chrome, manganese, bauxite and limestone—was producing vis-a-vis its approved limits. “We issued notices in September 2011, well before the Shah Commission’s first visit to the state in November 2011,” he adds.

“This is all a show for (Justice) Shah and the upcoming elections,” alleges Niranjan Patnaik, state Congress leader. “What about the pits in huge tracts of unleased area, relinquished area and OMC’s own mines? Has the Shah Commission seen these tracts, where the mafia ran riot with government patronage?” The state’s complicity is why, alleges Niranjan Patnaik, even as Karnataka and Goa agreed to an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI), Orissa didn’t. “A CBI enquiry can well start with my mining baron cousins, but it must.”

CENTRE-STATE CONFLICTOrissa, on its part, has been arguing with the Centre for some time to reduce profits in the hands of miners—and increasing revenues in the hands of the state. At present, states earn a royalty, of 10% of the average sale price per tonne, on the iron ore sold.The Centre fixes this royalty rate. Although this rate is revised every three years, the 10% rate has been in place since 2009. Before that, it was a flat Rs 12-27 per tonne, which meant miners pocketed every bit of gains from a price increase. With China on a building boom, iron ore prices shot up four-fold between 2001 and 2011.

Orissa began asking the Centre to levy a windfall tax. On September 3, 2011, chief minister Patnaik wrote to the prime minister that, “I am concerned about the huge profits accruing to merchant mining companies, a large number of which are in private hands.”

Patnaik cited the phenomenal increase in NMDC’s net profit—from Rs 1,245 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 18,815 crore in 2010-11. Dinsha Patel, the minister of mines at the Centre, replied to Patnaik that Orissa’s coffers also rose proportionately: the state earned Rs 1,852 crore in iron-ore royalties in 2010-11, despite a fall in production, against Rs 668 crore collected the previous year.

A former mines ministry official, on the condition of anonymity, admits the Centre profited more than the state during the boom. “The Centre increased export duty (collected by the Centre) from 5% to 20% in February 2011 and to 30% in December 2011,” he says. “Orissa’s demand is fair enough. Royalty earnings also surged, but not to the extent exports did.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

All eyes are now on the Shah Commission, which had made three trips to Orissa. A battery of highprofile lawyers—including Ram Jethmalani representing Thriveni Earthmovers, andGopal Subramaniam representing seven companies, including Tata Steel and Indrani Patnaik—made a submission to it to hear their clients out individually, something that was not done in Goa.

Between February and April, miners defended their case to Justice Shah in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where he is based. They have also been offering olive branches. During the commission’s hearings in Orissa, a group of miners offered to create a trust of Rs 100 crore for developmental work in the state.

Although miners are still going about operations and production hasn’t suffered, a period of trials and tribulations lies ahead for them. For example, the ‘RBT case’ accused, who were found guilty of illegal mining by Orissa, won relief from the Centre, and their cases are presently in the Orissa High Court. The state’s decision to insist on captive mining has also ended up in courts.

 

Don’t tamper with personal freedom via Aadhar and UID


 Dailyexcelsior, Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala
The Government has proposed to increase the scope of present scheme of providing pension to widows and helpless. The present qualifying age of 40 years age will be reduced to 18 years. Disabled will get pension at more than 40 percent disability against 80 percent at present. In a separate move it is proposed to distribute subsidies on fertilizer and LPG in cash to the beneficiaries. The Government plans to use the Aadhar platform for distributing these benefits. Biometric information-finger prints and pictures of the iris and the face-of each citizen will be collected and stored in a centralized computer. This will enable verification of the beneficiary when he approaches a ration shop for his monthly quota. These are indeed laudable objectives and the Government should be congratulated for moving from subsidies in kind to cash.
Problem with Aadhar is invasion of privacy of the individual. Say, one is taking part in anti-corruption movement. Booking of rail tickets is linked to Aadhar as well as withdrawal of cash from ATMs. It thus becomes possible for the Government to pinpoint and track movements of political opponents. Gopal Krishna of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties tells that such UID proposals have been abandoned in the US, Australia and UK. The reason has predominantly been privacy. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’.
It appears the Government is trying to smuggle in a surveillance system over all its citizens under the guise of cash transfers. Krishna tells of how such a system was misused by Hitler. Germany had the lists of Jewish names even prior to the arrival of the Nazis. Nazis got these lists with the help of IBM. This company  was in the ‘census’ business that included racial census that entailed not only counting the Jews but also identifying them. At the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, there is an exhibit of an IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine that was responsible for organizing the census of 1933 that first identified the Jews. Such religious-, racial-, caste- or even political profiling could be introduced in the system in due course by the Government of India.
Another area of concern is that data management has been outsourced to US companies like Accenture which are deeply interconnected with the US Department of Homeland Security. Accenture’s profile includes developing prevention tactics and streamlining intelligence gathering.      Another US company involved in the India’s UID project is L-1 Identity Solutions. L-1 is a US defence contractor whose name was associated with the CIA and other US defence organizations. Former CIA director George Tenet and former Homeland Security deputy secretary Admiral James Loy were on the board of L-1 till 2010.
China had also embarked upon a UID type scheme but it abandoned it mid-way on concerns expressed by the Communist Party. The Chinese project was being done by a French company Safran. Recently L-1 has bought Safran. In this way, the technology of profiling people developed by Safran in China will now come to India via L-1.
There are two aspects of the Aadhar scheme. The distribution of pensions and cash subsidies through strict biometric monitoring is to be wholly welcomed. But the method adopted for doing this is wholly unacceptable. It seems the Government is surreptitiously smuggling in a powerful vigilance mechanism under the guise of cash distribution of subsidies. It is like a security personnel handing over secrets of the country to foreign powers so that he can build a school in his village. Collection of biometric data and possible handing over of the same to foreign powers cannot be justified on grounds of cash distribution of subsidies.
We should examine other alternatives. The justification of Aadhar arises from the fact that large number of subsidies is to be distributed to beneficiaries. We should think of removing this entire cobweb of subsidies and distributing a consolidated amount to each citizen as his right to life. All complicated systems of food, fertilizer, LPG, kerosene and even health and education subsidies should be scrapped. People should be given money to buy all these services from the market according to their choice.
The opposition should wake up. The 2004 elections were lost by NDA because there was nothing on the ground which would provide relief to the common man. Last general elections were again lost by the NDA because UPA had implemented MNREGA and loan waiver. The UPA hopes to win the coming elections in 2014 on the back of pensions and cash transfers. The opposition should demand universal consolidated cash transfer through an organization like the Employees Provident Fund as a counter to this dangerous move by the UPA.
The main difficulty in implementation of this suggestion is the stranglehold of the welfare bureaucracy. Over the last sixty years large numbers of government servants have been employed in the provision of welfare schemes to the people. These include education, health, subsidized food grains and a host of schemes such as house for the poor under Indira Awas Yojana and widow’s pension. These schemes provide huge benefits to the government servants. One beneficiary of the Indira Awas Yojana told me that he had to pay bribe of Rs 10,000 to get the benefits of Rs 25,000. Large amounts of bribes will now be obtained by the government servants in providing certificates of 40 percent disability.  The apparent objective of these schemes is to provide benefits to the poor. But the more important and real objective is to create a huge army of government servants that stands behind the government and is willing to crush any rebellion by the people against exploitation. All political parties are trying to appease this section of the society because these have a decisive role in the electoral process.
The solution is going to be difficult. One possibility is to stop new recruitments in the welfare departments. The money saved upon retirement of present servants may be diverted to cash payments. Cash payments will grow gradually. Another solution is to deploy these servants in productive works such as traffic control, police, judiciary, forest protection and pollution control.
The giving out of doles via Aadhar is unacceptable because it opens the gates for providing this information to foreign powers; and also because it does not solve the basic problem of a bloated welfare mafia.

 

#Vedanta ropes in IBM to enable strong business growth


The company has tied up with IBM to create a robust infrastructure for the resource planning system of its power business InformationWeek, December 11, 2012

IBM today announced that Vedanta, a global natural resources group, has tied up with IBM to create a robust infrastructure for the resource planning system of their power business. IBM has leveraged its BladeCenter and System X storage portfolio to help Vedanta enhance its overall management system and reduce costs.

Vedanta, primarily engaged in the copper, zinc, silver, aluminium, iron ore as well as power businesses, works across India, Zambia, Namibia, Africa, Liberia, Ireland and Australia, among others. The IBM implementation has been done at their center in Jharsuguda in Odisha. The solution stack offered to Vedanta in Odisha includes BladeCenter Chasis, Blade Server and Disk Storage. The solution offered by IBM is said to augment the hardware infrastructure of Vedanta, while reducing the total cost of ownership.

“We have partnered with IBM from the inception of our plant in Jharsuguda and Lanjigarh. While we have worked with other vendors, we are seeing strong benefits from working with IBM technology. This has helped us in reducing data center costs of power and server footprint, while facilitating ease of management,” said Subrata Banerjee, CIO, Vedanta Aluminum.

Given that in India, local businesses have been very keen on overhauling their traditional system to incorporate a robust IT set-up, IBM is looking to bring in world-class technology to remote regions. IBM also has a major programme of geo expansion in places across India to increase its presence in smaller, rapidly developing cities and their new office in Odisha is a part of their expansion plans.

“Odisha is an important region for IBM, and the company is focused on growing its presence in the region to help businesses transform themselves and succeed in a dynamic environment,” Vivek Malhotra, Regional Territory Executive, IBM General Business, India/ South Asia said.

 

Why civil Liberties activists walked out from Nandan Nilekani’s lecture #mustread #UID


Dear Fellow Citizens,

This is to inform you about why the civil Liberties activists walked out from the Sixth Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture because Shri Nandan Manohar Nilekani was chosen to deliver it on November 23, 2012.

While delivering his welcome address while introducing the legacy of Justice Tarkunde, the stalwart of civil liberties, Kuldip Nayar, veteran journalist and former ambassador underlined that the democratic space is shrinking and had Justice Tarkunde been alive he would have opposed centralized databases like Union Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) and Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) because it is an assault on civil liberties and human rights.

It is noteworthy that Shri Ashok Desai, a Senior Advocate who was on the dais to introduce the Speaker also raised the issue of the fear of an emerging Orwellian situation where a Big Brother watch on everybody drawing from George Orwell‘s book 1984 that taught us that an all-knowing corrupt government is a terrifying situation.

We wish to inform you that as soon as Shri Nilekani started speaking, a significant section of the audience comprising of civil liberties activists walked out in protest from the Multi-purpose Hall of India International Centre, New Delhi. Those who walked out included Vrinda Grover, a well known lawyer, Dr Usha Ramanathan, noted jurist, Kalyani Menon Sen, a reputed feminist writer and researcher, , students of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students, former Presidents of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU), Sandeep Singh and Sucheta De, Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) and several others.

The walk out was a protest against Shri Nilekani being invited to deliver the lecture in memory of the stalwart of human rights and civil liberties, Justice Tarkunde. The UID project has been challenged since its inception. The activists who walked out of the lecture have repeatedly tried to engage with Shri Nilekani at various public platforms but he has consistently declined to answer their questions or enter into any discussion with them.

The civil liberties activists circulated a Statement of Concern on UID-Aadhaar which included demands like “The project be halted, a feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue, experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality, the law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID project), a cost: benefit analysis be done and a public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in.”  This statement was issued by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India, Prof Romila Thapar, Historian, Late K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer, Kavita Srivastava, PUCL Aruna Roy, MKKS, Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Late S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India, Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant, Prof. Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi, Uma Chakravarthi, Historian, Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker, Amar Kanwar, Film Maker, Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Trilochan Sastry, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and Association for Democratic Reforms, Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, ex- Indian Institute of Management, Ahemdabad and Association for Democratic Rights, Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD and Justice A.P. Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi. But till date these concerns and questions remain unanswered.

The organizers rushed and tried to take back the papers but several members of the audience refused to hand over the papers. As the activists walked out, the organizers termed the peaceful and silent distribution of the Statement of Concern on UID as ‘trouble’. After the program, many members of the audience who came out after hearing the lecture revealed that it was not at all convincing.

Most respectfully, we are submitting ten questions for your consideration:

1.   Why do we need Unique Identification (UID)-Aadhaar Number as a 16th identity proof which in fact is an identifier and not an identity proof. Hasn’t linking of cash transfer with UID made it mandatory contrary to its continued claim that it is voluntary? 

In the beginning, it was said that the UID would be voluntary. Now, it is creeping into becoming mandatory, with the threat that those who don’t have a UID cannot access services of many kinds, including rations and bank accounts. How does NN see the implications of this creep for civil liberties and the rights of the people?

2. Why present and future Indian citizens should be allowed profiled based on biometric data? Are citizens worse than prisoners? The indiscriminate collection of biometrics of prisoners is not allowed as per Identification of Prisoners Act.

3. Why have countries like UK, Australia, the Philippines rejected UID like projects?

Countries such as the UK, Australia, the Philippines have rejected identity projects that closely resemble the UID project because of its civil liberty implications, the prohibitive cost, the untested technology and because it will make the people subservient to the state. What is the reason for thinking that Indian citizens can bear these risks and costs?

4.  How can UIDAI and UID project be deemed legitimate if it has been disapproved as violation of the prerogative of the Parliament by Parliamentary Committee on Finance

The Parliamentary Committee on Finance, in December 2011, roundly disapproved of the proposed Bill and the project. The government has not come up with a revised law, and there is in fact no law that, today, governs the project. Isn’t the protection of the citizen by law important?

5. Who will be held accountable for violation of citizen’s privacy law and data protection?

The UID project poses a threat to the privacy rights of citizens, and Shri Nandan Nilekani has acknowledged that many times over. Yet, the project is steaming ahead without any law on privacy in place, and is believed to be breaching many privacy principles. How is Shri Nandan Nilekani addressing this in his project as project leader?

6. If violation of confidentiality promised in the Census Act is done with impunity, how can census like UID exercise be trusted? 

7. What is the guarantee that whosoever controls Centralized Database of Indians will not become autocrat like Hosni Mubarak who handed over citizens’ database to US Government?

8. Isn’t the entire UID related exercise meant to provide market for biometric and surveillance technology companies and World Bank’s partners like International Business Machines (IBM), Gemalto, Intel, Safran Group, Microsoft, and Pfizer, France and South Korea?

There is an extraordinary dependence on corporations, many of them companies with close links with foreign intelligence agencies. How are the implications of this factor being dealt with?

9. Isn’t linking of UID with voter id, land titles, National Intelligence Grid, National Population Register (NPR), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) etc an assault to rights of citizens? 

The ubiquity that the UIDAI is trying to get for the UID — where it will be linked with the National Population Register, and service such set ups as the CCTNS, the NCTC, the NATGRID– where are the protections for the citizen from an invasive state?

10. Who will guarantee that the centralized database of UID, NPR will not be used for holocaust, genocide, communal and ethnic riots, targeting of minorities and political dissidents?          

Why is technology treated as if it has no politics, or no civil liberties implications, when we know that it most certainly does?

As a background to the goings on around UID related developments, we wish to draw your attention towards what Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance said about the Unique Identification (UID)-Aadhaar number project of Shri Nandan Manohar Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) who is helping create a Database and a Surveillance State based on illegal and illegitimate collection of biometric data despite explicit legislative disapproval.

In its report to the Parliament, the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance has taken on board studies done in the UK on the identity scheme that was begun and later withdrawn in May 2010 when the proponents of ID project were defeated in the elections. The Committee took note of the problems like “(a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex; (c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs” in undertaking such projects.

We submit that the Parliamentary Committee has noted that the Central Government has “admitted that (a) no committee has been constituted to study the financial implications of the UID scheme; and (b) comparative costs of the aadhaar number and various existing ID documents are also not available.” In view of such glaring omissions, the Parliamentary Committee denounced the UID/aadhaar project as `unethical and violative of Parliament’s prerogatives’ and as akin to an ordinance when the Parliament is in session.

It may noted that Supreme Court of Republic of the Philippines July 23, 1998 rejected the National ID program initiated by President Fidel V. Ramos on December 12, 1996 through “Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System” in its 60 page judgment on two important constitutional grounds, viz: one, it is a usurpation of the power of Congress to legislate, and two, it impermissibly intrudes on our citizenry’s protected zone of privacy. In India, High Courts of Madras, Mumbai and now the Supreme Court are seized with the matter.

We submit that among many questions that have emerged, one is: Has Shri Nilekani, in rank of the Cabinet Minister taken the oath on Constitution of India to abide by its provisions?

It must be remembered that even Mahatma Gandhi opposed a law similar to UID as a Black Act in South Africa from 1906 to 1914 saying,”…I have never known legislation of this nature being directed against free men in any part of the world. I know that indentured Indians in Natal are subject to a drastic system of passes, but these poor fellows can hardly be classed as free men” and “…giving of finger prints, required by the Ordinance, was quite a novelty in South Africa. With a view to seeing some literature on the subject, I read a volume on finger impressions by Mr. Henry, a police officer, from which I gathered that finger prints were required by law only from criminals.”

In August 1906 the Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance became law in the Transvaal. Any Indian who did not register by a certain date would no longer be allowed to stay in the Transvaal. This law stated that every Indian man, woman or child older than 8 years must register with a government official called the registrar of Asiatics. This registrar was to also take the fingerprints of the people he registered and issue them with registration certificates, which they had to show to any policeman who asked to see them. Notably, UID scheme too is based on biometric data like finger prints and iris scan.

It is noteworthy that PUCL had already disassociated itself from the Sixth Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture program because of wrong choice of speaker. In a letter dated November 21, 2012 to the human rights community, V Suresh, National General Secretary (Elect), People’s Union for Civil liberties (PUCL) said, “We had issued a statement where we made explicit that our opposition to UDIAI has not changed nor our continuing to oppose the UID project. We had also spoken to and followed by writing to the organisers informing our stand on UIDAI, that selection of a person like Mr. Nilekani is  contradictory to the very ideals that Justice Tarkunde’s  work and persona reflected, and therefore the demand for calling off the lecture as also that we did not want to be associated with the event.”

In view of the massive opposition to the proposed databases as the structural basis being laid out for future authoritarianism through despotic projects like UID, NPR, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Human DNA Profiling, National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Land Titling Bill, 2011 and Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, we invite the urgent intervention of the fellow citizens to boycott and oppose such illegitimate advances of the State at the behest of the ungovernable and unregulated foreign biometric and surveillance technology companies.

We submit that the collection of biometric data supports the ideology of biological determinism with its implicit and explicit faith in the biometric technologies. There are dangers of trusting such technological advances for determining social policies.

On behalf of the groups working on civil liberties we request you to consider the merit of the opposition to biometric identification exercises and the assault on civil liberties and examine the ramifications of the unfolding automatic identification regime being facilitated by Shri Nilekani, and others in the face of corporate media unquestionably promoting identification and surveillance technology companies.

We submit that rewriting and engineering the electoral ecosystem with the unconstitutional and illegal use of biometric technology in a context where electoral finance has become source of corruption and black money in the country. This would lead to linking of UID, Election ID and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which is not as innocent and as politically neutral as it has been made out to be. It is noteworthy that all EVMs have a UID as well.

We submit that the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 (UID Bill) has already rejected the idea of biometric data based identification scheme for mankind’s biggest database ever and the UID Bill.

In the face of such attack on citizen’s sovereignty despite explicit legislative disapproval, support of informed citizens is urgently needed to safeguard civil liberties and human rights of present and future generations.

We will be happy to share relevant documents and information in this regard.

civil liberties activists

SAY NO TO UID CAMPAIGN

When excess mining got a legal seal #Odisha


pic courtesy, Reuters

Debabrata Mohanty : Bhubaneswar, Mon Nov 12 2012, 01:22 hrs

A key mining regulator, The Indian Bureau of Mines, allowed excess mining to carry on in Orissa by raising the permissible limit of those responsible, says the state government, which recently slapped a penalty on several leaseholders.

The IBM, however, says that excess mining is not illegal as long as the companies involved pay the royalty for what they have extracted. In fact, because of an amendment to mining rules, the state and the Centre continue to debate what constitutes illegal mining.

The IBM, with its headquarters in Nagpur, approves the mining plans of each company for a period of five years with predetermined annual limits under section 5(2)(b) of the Mines & Minerals (Regulation & Development) Act, 1957 and other rules such as Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, and Mineral Conservation & Development Rules, 1988. A lease period of 20 or 30 years is, therefore, divided into four or six mining plans. After the state government gets the IBM-approved mining plan, it grants or renews a lease.

When the first signs of excess mining in Keonjhar and Sundargarh showed in 2003, IBM officials on the ground spotted it. Official sources said that under the MC&D Rules, 1988, IBM officials are empowered to cancel the lease or impose penalties. It instead revised the mining plan, the sources said.

Documents with the steel and mines department show that in Khandabandh mines in Keonjhar, the IBM had approved extraction of 3.60 lakh tonnes by Tata Steel in 2006-07. The company raised 7.64 lakh tonnes, and again 7.42 lakh tonnes in 2007-08. The next year, the IBM raised the limit to 7.06 lakh tonnes without imposing penalties. In 2002-03, when the limit was 24 lakh tonnes at Joda East mines, the Tatas mined 30.5 lakh tonnes. The next year, the IBM raised the limit to 40.1 lakh tonnes.

“The mining plan/scheme is an instrument to systematically conserve the ores and not finish them overnight. Once a mining plan is given for five years, it should not be revised midway, but that’s what the IBM did,” said Orissa director of mines Deepak Kumar Mohanty. “They didn’t levy any penalty on over-mining and instead set new limits the next year. If you are going to condone illegalities, why have a mining plan/scheme at all?”

IBM officials say excess extraction is not illegal as long as the miner pays the royalty. “Once royalty is paid on excess production of ore, it can’t be called illegal mining. This was more like irregular operations,” said M Biswas, regional controller of mines with the IBM.

Biswas rejected the state’s allegation that the IBM failed to detect irregularities in mining. “We have done our duty and the state government is doing its job,” he said. “The IBM should not be blamed for the wrongs. It has taken action against certain mines by suspending their operations.”

Chief secretary B K Patnaik had written to the Union Mines Ministry about the IBM’s inaction, and the mines secretary wrote back to say that 20 per cent excess mining for a given year is condonable. This July, the ministry amended the MC Rules, 1960, saying mining outside the lease area is illegal but excess mining inside the lease area is not. The state government finds this difficult to accept. “Where is the rule in the MMDR Act that says 20 per cent excess mining can be allowed?” says the state director of mines.

Jayant Das, president of the Orissa High Court Bar Association and a lawyer on mineral matters, said, “The IBM had all the information to be able to crack down on illegal mining. But companies continued to over-extract from mines which had a deemed renewal status. This is not possible without a quid pro quo arrangement.”

Environmental activist Biswajit Mohanty, who has filed a PIL in the Orissa High Court demanding a CBI probe into the scam, said, “If deemed renewal by the state steel and mines department was the main cause of excess mining, the IBM’s negligence or condoning gave the miners the licence to loot.”

 

Gujarat polls: BJP finds new Narendra Modi masks scary #Fact :-)


Gujarat, Updated Nov 09, 2012 at 11:37am IST

Ahmedabad: There is only a little over a month left for Gujarat Assembly Elections and Chief Minister Narendra Modi is going all out to woo the voters and ensure that his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, returns to power. But this time the masks of Modi, which were a huge hit during the 2007 election campaign, seem to have spooked the BJP.

During the 2007 elections Modi’s masks were an important part of the promotional strategy and were a huge hit among Gujarat voters. Now, five years later Modi’s masks have changed dramatically. People say that the masks which have been ordered for the 2012 elections are scary.

The BJP has decided not to distribute the masks after getting the feedback that they were scary and would put off the voters. Significantly, the masks used in 2007 were similar to Modi. They were almost an exact replica of his face with his white hair, beard and even the glasses. The masks were supplied by a Singapur-based company.

Manufactured by an Indian firm, the masks ordered for the 2012 elections are very different and don’t resemble Modi. In the masks, Modi looks much too old and several BJP activists find them scary. Even the spectacle used is very different form what Modi uses.

BJP leaders remained silent when asked why the masks were not being distributed. No leader was willing to come on record on who is the responsible for ordering the masks. Moreover, the big relief for Modi is that the new masks have not been distributed on a large scale.

UID – #Aadhaar Number Linked Cash Transfer A Surreptitious Plan To Buy Votes


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

By Gopal Krishna

 

19 October, 2012
Countercurrents.org

 

New Delhi: Biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID)-Aadhaar Number linked welfare schemes is being bulldozed with 2014 elections in mind with the ulterior motive of altering voting behavior of the citizens by creating a ‘universal identity infrastructure’ linked to ‘unified payment infrastructure’.

 

Ahead of next parliamentary elections, with the launch of 21st crore UID-Aadhaar Number and Aadhaar Enabled Service Delivery (AESD) on October 20, 2012 contemptuously ignores Parliament, Parliamentary Committee, National Advisory Council and eminent citizens and the lessons from the belated report from Planning Commission’s Group of Experts on Privacy dated October 16, 2012. What is evident is that there is an open war declared on sensitive personal information like biometric data which includes finger prints, iris scans, voice prints, DNA samples etc. The fact is a centralized electronic database of citizens and privacy, both are conceptually contradictory.

 

The launch exercise of October 20, 2012 stands exposed because it is officially admitting that UID-Aadhaar is mandatory contrary to what was claimed at its launch in Maharashtra on September 29, 2010. The creeping of voluntariness into compulsion through threat of discontinuance of services has been roundly castigated by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

 

A revealing Policy Research Working Paper titled ‘Conditional Cash Transfers, Political Participation, and Voting Behavior’ brought out by World Bank in October 2012 “provides empirical evidence to support the notion that political participation and political views are responsive to targeted transfers.” It notes that in Colombia, “During the 2010 presidential election voters covered by FA (large scale conditional cash transfer) not only voted more often, but also expressed a stronger preference (around 2 percentage points) for the official party that implemented and expanded the program… Another possible explanation is that FA (large scale conditional ash transfer) was strategically targeted and motivated by clientelism and vote buying.” The paper can be downloaded here (PDF)

 

On its website Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues to claim that UID-Aadhhar is ‘voluntary’ and not ‘mandatory’. The million dollar question which Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Nandan Monohar Nilekani need to answer is: how can Aadhaar be deemed ‘voluntary’ if service delivery is being made dependent on it. This is a grave breach of public trust. This is a deliberate exercise in deception. The proposed ‘electronic transfers of benefits and entitlements’ through ‘Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of the beneficiaries’ is crafted to make it mandatory. The claim “Each Aadhaar number will be unique to an individual and will remain valid for life. Aadhaar number will help you provide access to services like banking, mobile phone connections and other Govt and Non-Govt services in due course” is fraught with creating a platform for convergence of government and corporate sector as is aimed by the ‘Transformational Government’ project of World Bank’s eTransform Initiative launched in partnership with Governments of South Korea and France and six transnational corporations like Gemalto, IBM, Intel, L-1 Identity Solutions (now part of Safran Group), Microsoft and Pfizer.

 

This scheme is unfolding despite the fact that Parliament has not passed the National Identification Authority of India Bill (NIAI), 2010 proposed by the Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. It is noteworthy that Sinha headed Parliamentary Committee in its report to the Parliament has rejected UID and biometric data collection terming it as an illegal and an unethical project.

 

Corroborating citizens’ concerns, the Parliamentary Committee has noted that the government has “admitted that (a) no committee has been constituted to study the financial implications of the UID scheme; and (b) comparative costs of the aadhaar number and various existing ID documents are also not available.” The Committee expressed its anxiety that, the way the project had been run, “the scheme may end up being dependent on private agencies, despite contractual agreement made by the UIDAI with several private vendors.”

 

The parliamentary rejection of this scheme came in the aftermath of the Statement of Concern issued in the matter of world’s biggest data management project, Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar Number scheme and related proposals like National Intelligence Grid by 17 eminent citizens led by Justice V R Krishna Iyer. The NIAI Bill, 2010 which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 3, 2010 after the constitution of the UIDAI and appointment of Nilekani as its Chairman in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister without oath of secrecy. The Bill sought to provide statutory status to the UIDAI which has been functioning without backing of law since January 2009. At present UIDAI is functioning without any legislative mandate.

 

One day ahead of the launch of UID in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra on September 29, 2010, the statement of eminent citizens had asked for the project to be put on hold till a feasibility study was done, a cost: benefit analysis undertaken, a law of privacy put in place and the various concerns of surveillance, tracking, profiling, tagging and convergence of data be addressed. None of this has happened till today. The Parliamentary Committee endorsed these concerns and recognised that the project cannot carry on till this is set right. Many countries UK, China, USA, Australia and the Philippines have abandoned such identity schemes.

 

Nilekani, as a member or chairperson of multiple committees of several ministries, has been trying to push for the adoption of the UID, and for the re-engineering of current systems to fit the does not meet the requirements of the UID. There have been attempts to withdraw services such as LPG and other essential commodities if a person has not enrolled for a UID. The state governments and citizens have been kept in dark about the harmful ramifications of the world’s biggest data management project and how it linked with hitherto undisclosed other proposed legislations and initiatives. The UID number and related proposals pose a threat to both civil liberties as well as our natural resources like land as is evident from Land Titling Bill and Nilekani’s book that aims to create a common land market to reduce poverty.

 

Nilekani’s promotion of Hernando de Sotto’s book ‘The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else‘ through his own book Imagining India arguing that national ID system would be a big step for land markets to facilitate right to property and undoing of abolition of right to property in 1978 in order to bring down poverty! Nilekani and the UPA government should be asked as to explain the inexplicability of such assumptions.

 

Notably, such UIDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and UK. The reasons have predominantly been: costs and privacy. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’. The Supreme Court of Philippines struck down a biometric based national ID system as unconstitutional on two grounds – the overreach of the executive over the legislative powers of the congress and invasion of privacy. The same is applicable in India.

 

Not surprisingly, the Parliamentary Committee observes, “The clearance of the Ministry of Law & Justice for issuing aadhaar numbers, pending passing the Bill by Parliament, on the ground that powers of the Executive are co-extensive with the legislative power of the Government and that the Government is not debarred from exercising its Executive power in the areas which are not regulated by the legislation does not satisfy the Committee. The Committee are constrained to point out that in the instant case, since the law making is underway with the bill being pending, any executive action is as unethical and violative of Parliament‟s prerogatives.” The committee also observed that a National Data Protection Law is “a pre-requisite for any law that deals with large scale collection of information from individuals and its linkages across separate databases. It would be difficult to deal with the issues like access and misuse of personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and securing confidentiality of information etc.“

 

In a significant development following rigorous deliberations, an Indian development support organization founded in 1960, Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) disassociated itself from UID Number project which was being undertaken under Mission Convergence in Delhi. Withdrawal of IGSSS that works in 21 states of the country merits the attention of all the states and civil society organisations especially those who are unwittingly involved in the UID Number enrollment process. In its withdrawal letter IGSSS said, “we will not be able to continue to do UID enrolment…” It added, it is taking step because ‘it’s hosted under the rubric of UNDP’s “Innovation Support for Social Protection: Institutionalizing Conditional Cash Transfers” [Award ID: 00049804, Project: 00061073; Confer: Output 1, Target 1.2 (a) & Output 3 (a), (b)]. In fact we had no clue of this until recently when we searched the web and got this information.’

 

It is clear that both Mission Convergence and UIDAI have been hiding these crucial facts with ulterior motives. The letter reads, “IGSSS like many other leading civil society groups and individuals are opposed to conditional cash transfers and the UID will be used to dictate it.”

 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee considered the NIAI Bill, 2010 presented its report to the Parliament on December 13, 2011. The reported rejects biometric data based identification of Indians. The report is a severe indictment of the hasty and `directionless’ project which has been “conceptualised with no clarity of purpose”. Even the functional basis of the Unique Identification Authority of India UIDAI is unclear and yet the project has been rolled out. The Standing Committee found the biometric technology `uncertain’ and ‘untested’. As early as December 2009, the Biometric Data Committee had found that the error rate using fingerprints was inordinately high. In a recent interview to the press, the Director General and Mission Director of the UIDAI had admitted that fingerprints are likely not to work for authentication. The error rate could end up excluding up to 15% of the population. It has also come to light that even iris scan keeps changing and is unreliable. Yet, the UIDAI has gone on with the exercise. Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) had appeared before the Parliamentary Committee to give its testimony on the UID BIll.

 

“I would have liked to make an additional point about the perspective Adhaar reflects vis-a-vis governance of our country and the conduct of our society. The only inference one can reasonably draw is that the votaries of this idea expect the Indian state to perpetually or for a long time remain in the ‘mai-baap’ role, personally taking care of each of its needy children. Why else would we want to spend so much money on a device only meant to enable the ‘mai-baap’ to correctly identify its children?” said Deep Joshi, member, National Advisory Council (NAC) in a message. Other NAC members like Aruna Roy has also been vociferously opposed to centralization of governance through schemes like UID. Clearly, the views of these members too have been ignored.

 

Besides influencing the voter preference, once the Planning Commission’s Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of 600 million citizens is ready by 2014 and the related National Population Register (NPR) of the remaining 600 citizens is ready it will emerge as a potential threat to minority communities of all sorts by some regime which finds them unsuitable for their political projects.

 

So far the entire political class has remained insensitive to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights about violation of the right to privacy and citizens’ rights. The case was heard publicly on February 27, 2008, and the unanimous decision of 17 judges was delivered on December 4, 2008. The court found that the “blanket and indiscriminate nature” of the power of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples, and DNA profiles of persons suspected but not convicted of offenses, failed to strike a fair balance between competing public and private interests and ruled that the United Kingdom had “overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation” in this regard. The decision is nonappealable.

 

Unmindful of this, in India, National databank of biometric data is unfolding which is proposed to be linked to electoral database amidst the political myopia of political parties in the face of the onslaught of the foreign biometric and surveillance technology companies. The only saving grace has been Parliamentary Standing Committee that has taken on board studies done in the UK on the identity scheme that was begun and later withdrawn in May 2010, where the problems were identified to include “(a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex;(c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs.”

 

It may be recalled that S.Y. Quraishi, the previous Chief Election Commissioner had sent a dangerous proposal to Union Ministry of Home Affairs asking it “to merge the Election ID cards with UID”. Such an exercise would mean rewriting and engineering the electoral ecosystem with the unconstitutional and illegal use of biometric technology in a context where electoral finance has become source of corruption and black money in the country. This would lead to linking of UID, Election ID and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which is not as innocent and as politically neutral as it has been made out to be. It is noteworthy that all EVMs have a UID as well. In the meanwhile, it is reliably learnt that voter registration in Manipur is happening using biometric data. This makes a mockery of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on UID which notes that “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals without amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament”.

 

Opposition parties at the centre and in the States appear to be feigning ignorance about these attempts at re-plumbing the electoral ecosystem and a complicit section of civil society seems guilty of practicing ‘the economics of innocent fraud’.

 

The results of the October 2012 World Bank paper find that “voters respond to targeted transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents”. The UID-Aadhaar and unified payment infrastructure proposed is an act in designing political mechanisms to capture pre-existing schemes for political patronage in spite of the absence of ‘legislative mechanisms’. It is apparent that non-UPA parties have been caught unawares into implementing the program which is designed to their political disadvantage.

 

Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660, Phone: +91-11-2651781, Fax:+91-11-26517814,E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com

 

 

If UID is voluntary, why is it used to deliver services? #Aadhaar #Nandanilekani


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

October 19, 2012 20:06 IST

 

 

How can Aadhaar be deemed ‘voluntary’ if service delivery is being made dependent on it, asks Gopal Krishna

Biometric data based 12-digit Unique Identification — Aadhaar number — linked welfare schemes are being bulldozed with 2014 elections in mind with the ulterior motive of altering voter’s behaviour by creating a ‘universal identity infrastructure’ linked to ‘unified payment infrastructure’.

Ahead of the next parliamentary elections, the launch of the 21st crore UID-Aadhaar number and Aadhaar enabled service delivery on October 20 contemptuously ignores Parliament, parliamentary committees, the National Advisory Council and eminent citizens and the lessons from the belated report from the Planning Commission’s group of experts on privacy dated October 16. What is evident is that there is an open war declared on sensitive personal information like biometric data which includes fingerprints, iris scans, voice prints, DNA samples etc. The fact is a centralised electronic database of citizens and privacy, both are conceptually contradictory.

The launch exercise of October 20 stands exposed because it is officially admitting that the UID is mandatory contrary to what was claimed at its launch in Maharashtra [ Images ] on September 29 last year. Making this compulsory by threatening to discontinue services has been roundly castigated by Bhartiya Janta Party leader Yashwant Sinha-headed parliamentary standing committee on finance.

On its website the Unique Identification Authority of IndiaImages ] continues to claim that UID-Aadhhar is ‘voluntary’ and not ‘mandatory’. The million dollar question which Sonia Gandhi [ Images ], Manmohan Singh [ Images ], P Chidambaram [ Images ], Montek Singh AhluwaliaImages ] and Nandan Monohar Nilekani need to answer is: how can Aadhaar be deemed ‘voluntary’ if service delivery is being made dependent on it. This is a grave breach of public trust. This is a deliberate exercise in deception.

The proposed ‘electronic transfers of benefits and entitlements’ through ‘Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of the beneficiaries’ is crafted to make it mandatory. The claim was that each Aadhaar number will be unique to an individual and will remain valid for life. The Aadhaar number will help provide access to services like banking, mobile phone connections and other government and non-government services in due course” is fraught with creating a platform for convergence of government and corporate sector as is aimed by the ‘transformational government’ project of the World Bank‘s e-transform initiative launched in partnership with the governments of South Korea and France [ Images ] and six transnational corporations like Gemalto, IBM, Intel, L-1 Identity Solutions (now part of Safran Group), Microsoft [ Images ] and Pfizer [ Get Quote ].

This scheme is unfolding despite the fact that the Parliament has not passed the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 proposed by the Congress-led United Progressive AllianceImages ] government. It is noteworthy that the Sinha-headed parliamentary committee in its report to Parliament has rejected the UID and biometric data collection terming it as an illegal and an unethical project.

One day ahead of the launch of UID in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra on September 29, 2010, the statement of eminent citizens had asked for the project to be put on hold till a feasibility study was done, a cost: benefit analysis undertaken, a law of privacy put in place and the various concerns of surveillance, tracking, profiling, tagging and convergence of data be addressed. None of this has happened till today. The parliamentary committee endorsed these concerns and recognised that the project cannot carry on till this is set right. Many countries — the United Kingdom, China, United States, Australia [ Images ] and the Philippines — have abandoned such identity schemes.

Nilekani, as a member or chairperson of multiple committees of several ministries, has been trying to push for the adoption of the UID, and for re-engineering of the current systems to fit the requirements of the UID. There have been attempts to withdraw services such as LPG and other essential commodities if a person has not enrolled for a UID.

The state governments and citizens have been kept in the dark about the harmful ramifications of the world’s biggest data management project and how it linked with hitherto undisclosed other proposed legislations and initiatives. The UID number and related proposals pose a threat to both civil liberties as well as our natural resources like land as is evident from the Land Titling Bill and Nilekani’s book that aims to create a common land market to reduce poverty.

Notably, such UIDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and UK. The reasons have predominantly been: costs and privacy. In the UK, the home secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’. The Supreme Court of Philippines struck down a biometric-based national ID system as unconstitutional on two grounds — the overreach of the executive over the legislative powers of the Congress and invasion of privacy. The same is applicable in India.

Besides influencing the voter preference, once the Planning Commission’s Central Identities Data Repository of 600 million citizens is ready by 2014 and the related National Population Register of the remaining 600 citizens is ready it will emerge as a potential threat to minority communities of all sorts by some regime, which finds them unsuitable for their political projects.

The only saving grace has been the parliamentary standing committee that has taken on board studies done in the UK on the identity scheme that was begun and later withdrawn in May 2010, where the problems were identified to include (a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex; (c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs.

It may be recalled that S Y Quraishi, former chief election commissioner, had sent a dangerous proposal to Union Ministry of Home Affairs asking it “to merge the Election ID cards with UID”. Such an exercise would mean rewriting and engineering the electoral ecosystem with the unconstitutional and illegal use of biometric technology in a context where electoral finance has become a source of corruption and black money in the country.

The results of the October 2012 World Bank paper find that “voters respond to targeted transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents”. The UID-Aadhaar and unified payment infrastructure proposed is an act in designing political mechanisms to capture pre-existing schemes for political patronage in spite of the absence of ‘legislative mechanisms’. It is apparent that non-UPA parties have been caught unawares into implementing the programme, which is designed to their political disadvantage.

 

 

 

 

How mining mafia established a “republic of fear” in Bellary


BANGALORE, June 18, 2012

Sudipto Mondal, The Hindu

An April 2006 image (top) of the Dalmia mines shows a verdant expanse. In the Google Earth image (below) obtained in March 2010, the area is seen ravaged by massive mining.

An April 2006 image (top) of the Dalmia mines shows a verdant expanse. In the Google Earth image (below) obtained in March 2010, the area is seen ravaged by massive mining.

Witnesses who have testified against Janardhan Reddy and his men fear the mining baron’s release from jail

A torrent of calls flooded the CBI unit in Bangalore when T. Pattabhi Ramarao, the CBI judge in distant Hyderabad, granted bail to the jailed mining baron, G. Janardhan Reddy, on May 11.

Many of the frantic calls were from the 300-plus witnesses painstakingly persuaded by the CBI-Bangalore to testify in the case registered against Mr. Reddy’s flagship firm, the Associated Mining Company (AMC).

Download PDF — Dalmia mines: April 2006 and March 2010

Mr. Reddy’s judicial custody at the Parapana Agrahara Central Prison in Bangalore ends on Monday. On the directions of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, he is likely to be re-arrested as soon as he steps out.

Although path-breaking in its detailed evidence-based indictment of Mr. Reddy, the final Lokayukta report on illegal mining had its limitations. By contrast, the CBI’s unique position as a statutory investigative body has enabled it to find the evidence that, it believes, clinches what the Lokayukta could but indicate.

“During the peak of Reddy’s reign over Bellary, some witnesses had been kidnapped, others beaten and almost all intimidated by Reddy and his henchmen,” a CBI officer in Bangalore told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. Their testimonies given under oath before the judge of the Special CBI Court in Bangalore would make it difficult for them to retract their statements. But the CBI’s fear was some of the witnesses may prefer the wrath of the court to the threat of violence. “Our entire case was on the verge of collapse until the Andhra Pradesh High Court stepped in and suspended Pattabhi Ramarao on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs. 5 crore to grant bail to Reddy,” says a CBI Police Inspector.

Lawyers of Reddy remained tight lipped when asked about whether they would launch a fresh attempt to secure the release of the former BJP minister. C.V Nagesh, senior counsel in the case told The Hindu that he is yet to be briefed by the counsel-on-record representing Mr. Reddy.

Speaking to The Hindu, senior CBI officers offered examples of how the mining mafia established a “republic of fear” in Bellary. Many of these details have not been made public before because the court where witnesses deposed and were cross-examined was out-of-bounds for reporters following the violent clash between lawyers and journalists outside the sessions courts here earlier this year — the last time Mr Reddy was produced in an open court.

For example, one key government employee states under oath: “On April 26, 2011 the Range Forest Officer sent me with my colleagues to the Lokayukta Office and asked me to meet U.V. Singh [Indian Forest Officer and chief investigator who compiled the Lokayukta's illegal mining report]. He asked us how we could issue so many mining permits [to AMC]. We explained [in writing] that there was threat and force from G.J.R. [Reddy] due to which we signed the permits.”

The same witness states that he was summoned on May 9 by Mr. Reddy. [Pooh-poohing the Lokayukta report, Ali Khan, Reddy’s pointsman, allegedly stated: “The government belongs to GJR.” The witness deposed that he was forced, under threat of suspension, into signing a letter stating that U.V. Singh had coerced them into submitting statements against Mr. Reddy. Presently sharing space at the Parapana Agrahara Central Prison in Bangalore with Mr. Janardhan Reddy, the 1984-born Mehfouz Ali Khan is an engineer who became one of Mr. Reddy’s most trusted enforcers.

AMC — a dead mine

In his testimony, an Assistant Engineer of the Mines and Geology Department said Mr. Ali Khan coerced him to issue false stock certificates to the AMC. He yielded, knowing full well that the AMC owned a dead mine in Hospet, Bellary, which had not yielded highquality iron ore for several years. Mr. Reddy used such false certificates to legitimise ore that he had looted from other mines in the region, the CBI alleges.

Kidnapped, tortured

The testimony of the promoter of the mining firm Tiffins Barytes shows how Mr. Reddy’s men used muscle power to take over the operations of other mines.

Mr. Ali Khan and his men forced their way into the leasehold area of Tiffins Barrytes and extracted one lakh tonnes of high-quality ore between January and June 2010, according to a sworn statement by a company employee.

When senior company executive Vinod Jadhav protested, he was kidnapped and tortured at an undisclosed location. His complaints to the police and other authorities yielded no action.

Muscling in

The statement by the owners of the Siddapura Iron Ore Mines further establishes the extent of collusion between bureaucrats and Mr. Reddy, the CBI says. Repeated requests by Shaik Saab, the owner of Siddapura mines, for permission to extract ore from his leasehold area were turned down by forest officials. Meanwhile, Mr. Ali Khan approached him with offers to manage the mine. He promised to get the necessary clearances and in return Mr. Saab gave Mr. Ali Khan a 75 per cent stake in the earnings.

With its implicit threat of violence, it was an offer that Shaik Saab could not refuse. Ironically, Shaik Saab did not even get the 25 per cent that he was entitled to. “I was not even allowed to enter my mine after Ali Khan took over,” he said.

Forced takeover of AMC

The manner in which Reddy and his wife G. Aruna Lakshmi came to be the owners of the Associated Mining Company is a story in itself. In his testimony, K.M. Vishwanath, the former owner of AMC, told the Court he was coerced into handing over all his mining permits to Mr. Reddy. These permits were used by the latter to legitimise ore that he used to allegedly steal from the leasehold area of the Dalmia mines in Hospet. Despite Mr. Vishwanath’s protests against this extortion, Mr. Reddy and his wife Aruna Lakshmi forced themselves in as partners in AMC, the CBI alleges. Mr. Vishwanath and his other partners were subsequently edged out, and Reddy and his wife came to be the sole partners by August 2009.

Two scientific surveys commissioned by the CBI — done by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. (SCCL) in April 2012 — corroborate the Lokayukta report’s finding that AMC was a front for illegal mining, and the ore was actually extracted illegally from elsewhere.

Google it

While records with the Forest department, and the department of Mines and Geology state that Dalmia mines are in a state of disuse, satellite enabled images tell a different tale. (See satellite pictures) But the CBI says all the scientific evidence detailed in its chargesheet would have counted for little without the evidence from witnesses in court. A CBI investigator cites the evidence provided by an owner of a firm hired by the AMC to extract and transport ore. He showed investigators the exact spot from where he had extracted 33 lakh tonnes of ore on Mr. Ali Khan’s orders.

The investigators plotted the expanse on government maps. “The site was right in the middle of the Dalmia mines, nowhere near the leasehold area of the AMC,” the investigator told The Hindu.