Illegal mining marred communities

Published: Friday, Jun 15, 2012, 12:47 IST | Updated: Friday, Jun 15, 2012, 12:48 IST
By Subir Ghosh | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

The Indian mining industry has spiraled out of control, and the government has miserably failed to regulate it. The scale of lawlessness in the multi-billion dollar industry is hard to assess, and the industry has not only fuelled corruption, but also wreaked havoc on both local communities as well as the environment.

This overview of the mining industry comes from a 70-page report—Out of Control: Mining, Regulatory Failure, and Human Rights in India, released by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday. The report lays the blame squarely on the Indian government. “It has encouraged lawlessness by failing to enforce law or even monitor whether mine operators are complying with them,” HRW said.

The report delves deep into the reasons for the state of affairs – it says deep-rooted shortcomings in the design and implementation of key policies effectively left mine operators to supervise themselves. The pervasive lawlessness in the scandal-ridden mining industry is essentially the failure of governance.

The HRW report acknowledged it as a national problem, but narrowed down on illegal mining in Goa and Karnataka for its two well-documented case studies. The report talks of an annual rate of 30 criminal acts for every legitimate mining operation in the country, and goes on to show how even mines operating with the approval of government regulators are able to violate the law with impunity.

HRW researchers visited iron mining areas in Goa and Karnataka and found that reckless mine operators had destroyed or contaminated water sources people depend on for drinking water and irrigation. In some cases, miners even heaped waste rock and other mine waste near the banks of streams and rivers, leaving it to be washed into local water supplies or agricultural fields during the monsoon rains.

If this was not all, some operators punctured the local water table and then simply discarded the vast torrents of water that escape—permanently destroying a resource that entire communities rely on. Some farmers complained that endless streams of overloaded ore trucks passing along narrow village roads had left their crops coated in thick layers of metallic dust, destroying them, and threatening economic ruin.

Yet, it is not the ministry of mines that has been castigated – it is the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) which has been singled out for criticism by HRW. It talks of crucial environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports being extremely inaccurate, deliberately falsified, or both. The most bizarre case cited is that of a mine in Maharashtra being cleared even though its EIA report contained large amounts of data taken verbatim from a similar report prepared for a bauxite mine in Russia.

Read more here

448 mining trade licences suspended for 15 days

TNN Apr 4, 2012

PANAJI: The mines and geology department on Tuesday suspended more than 448 mining trade licences for the next 15 days pending verification of documents.

Director of mines Prasanna Acharya said, “After consulting with advocate general Atmaram Nadkarni on the suspension of trading licences, we have issued a common order under the Mining Regulation Act for the suspension to all mining traders in the state.”

The mines department has given a 15-day time limit to all traders to submit the necessary documents to show that they are genuine traders and not involved in illegal mining activities.

“We have to verify record to see who are allegedly involved in illegal mining,” Acharya said. The verification of documents will commence from Wednesday.

“If they are not found to be genuine we will have no option but to take necessary action,” said Acharya. The mining department will study the documents case by case. If the documents are not genuine then their licences will be revoked,” said Acharya. The mining department has also included the traders registered during the election period.

The department has planned to launch a software which can be used by both Goa Minerals Ore Exports Association (GMOEA) and the department to tally production and exports of iron ore from the state. “We have planned to ensure that there isn’t a single tonne’s difference between the production and exporters’ figures from the department and GMOEA from this year onwards. In a week’s time we will have the software,” he added.

The mining department is also exploring the possibility that they can act under the mining regulation to impose certain restrictions banning new trucks or fixing a deadline by which truck owners must register with the department.

“We are exploring the possibility of issuing commercial badges for mining truck drivers,” he said

The new director has also directed the mining department staff to streamline records and if necessary they can approach mines owners to get the records if they are not available with the department for certain reasons. The government also issued orders to cancel the extension of assistance technical officer of mining department Hector Fernandes.

Open letter to Participants of Vedanta’s Creating Happiness

Dear  Film-makers

I request you to have a look at my two open letters to Shyam benegal and Piyush Pandey on the creating happiness competition available here

After  Reading  my open letter , Mr  Shyam  Benegal, who was in the jury of your competition  withdrew  knowing that the Creating  Happiness   is just  Vedanta  PR  exercise to promote themselves. The other jury Member Gul Panag informed me on twitter that she withdrew precisely for the same reason on Feb 12th 2012. Now your three member jury has just one member Mr Piyush Pandey, the creator the Ad . This campaign  is a move that eyewashes people and drifts away from all the sins committed by Vedanta. Do you know Vedanta kept a secret from you about their work in Odisha? If you look at your own film list, you will see that only two of the 38 films in the competition are from Odisha. And these films do not give the REAL PICTURE at all; you can find more in Tehlka story here story_main51.asp?filename=Ne030312Creating.asp

Let me share another secret with you all, when I first saw the Ad I fell in love with Binoo, and I thought it was an Advertisement by the Government of India   to promote girl child, An enchanting face of girl child from Rajasthan, and since I am also working on issue of dwindling child sex ratio, the theme of Ad “Binno can smile and she can dream”, made me smile too. But then as the Ad  ended, it was saying VEDANTA creating happiness, it struck be Omi Gosh, it’s a CSR ad of Vedanta, looking for mending its tarnished image worldwide . Vedanta in the ad makes the tall claims that they have helped and supported people, it also patronises the history and poverty when the ad says “shayad iski maan kabhi hansi nahi? And in the end stating our work is in collaboration “with Govt and  NGOs “giving it’s a certificate of being honest is it?

Suppose if Vedanta Officials had said that they provide mid-day meals for 250,000 children? Or that they also provide healthcare for over 2.2 million people and computer education for 1 million students? Or that they work closely with over 3,000 aanganwadis across states like Orissa, Rajasthan, Goa and Chhattisgarh to address the nutritional needs of 125,000 children? Do you think people will believe, obviously not? They chose the brilliant filmmaker Piyush Pandey to tell their story through Binnoo, a little girl from Rajasthan (not in Orissa), or her brothers Nandu or Gosthto to tell you that story through their lives.  And they have hit on the right pulse, the heart of people sure, BUT whether it’s true or fake? The quality of the production of the advertisement and the scale of its dissemination has ensured the success of its message.

The impact can be read in a comment by Priyanka on my blog to the open letter, which voices the feelings of many

I had been admiring the ad all these days and this was the first time that I heard about ‘Vedanta’. The ad creates such a strong and positive brand impression….after reading through your article I detest the fact that some people in our country have the guts to actually create such positive imageries for organizations such as Vedanta…it makes me feel sick! If the Govt doesn’t care shouldn’t media care? Shouldn’t the ad agencies also care to check facts sometimes? But who are we kidding here….I’m waiting to see how Piyush reacts to this? What press statements would follow? What kind of cover ups would happen…’s a really selfish world! I wish I could do something more than just sharing this on FB as I just did

Vedanta has been fighting a negative perception battle which has been eroding its corporate brand equity. There has been an international debate over excessive mining versus human rights and environmental violations. In the name of progress and development” and their mantra is “maximum production” and “minimum cost.” The struggle of indigenous and tribal people versus corporations and states, over land rich in natural resources, is a global issue. The Kondh tribes have been battling to save their livelihood against British based mining company, Vedanta Resources.  This is not the first time, they haves used mass media. In 2010, when the human rights violations by Company in Odisha were at peak, it roped in Leo Burnett to prepare a television Ad, ironically titled

Bianca Jagger (former partner of   Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, was in India  in 2010 to visit the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa where the local population is opposed to the setting up of a bauxite mine.

”My visit to the Kondh brought back memories of what I have witnessed in Nicaragua and throughout Latin America. The struggle of indigenous and tribal people versus corporations and states, over ancestral land rich in natural resources, is not a new issue; nor is it unique to India. Throughout history they have been oppressed and forcibly expelled from their ancestral land, their rights violated with impunity by governments that have put the interest of corporations above their survival. I have campaigned for human rights, social justice and environmental protection throughout the world for nearly thirty years. During that period I have seen first-hand the devastating effects the irrational exploitation of our natural resources has had on the environment, communities and indigenous and tribal people.

At Vedanta’s shareholders AGM on July 28th 2010, I asked chairman Anil Agarwal if he would accept the findings of the Saxena committee. Non- executive director, Naresh Chandra replied, “Whatever the government of India decide, we will accept.” I hope that Vedanta stands by this statement. The company has an appalling track record – it has shown no respect for human rights, the environment or for local communities. Until Vedanta adheres to Corporate and Social Responsibility and is willing to comply with OECD guidelines, and agrees to fully inform and consult local communities, I do not think the company should be allowed to mine. ” (

Now tell me isn’t it ironical that a Corporate Mining  Giant accused of so many human rights violations against the tribals of Kondh, will improve its brand equity image through this short film competition , Thanks to you ?

I request you to reconsider your decision to participate in the competition, because in reality all of you are enhancing the image of Vedanta as a benevolent saviour and protector.

Please do sign online petition and share widely

Anticipating a positive reply from all of you

Warm regards

Kamayani Bali Mahabal


You can email me at –

(Please do help me reach out to the 114  film makers, who have contributed to the festival

Journalist, family murdered; hand of mining mafia suspected

       Feb 19, 2012, Mahim Pratap Singh, Hindu         

Chandrika Rai had been writing consistently against illegal racket

The brutal murder of a senior journalist and his entire family on Saturday night in Madhya Pradesh‘s Umaria distict, over 450 km from here, has sent shockwaves across the State with fingers being pointed at the illegal coal mining mafia active in the region.

Journalist Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children — son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) — were murdered using a sharp object at their residence, police said. The bodies were found in four separate rooms.

Mr. Rai was a freelance journalist who contributed regularly to the Hindi daily Navbharat and English daily The Hitavada. He had been writing consistently against the illegal coal mining in the region. He had written a series of articles alleging the involvement of a local BJP leader in illegal mining.

The district is known for the Umaria coalfield under the control of the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. However, illegal coal mining is also rampant in the region.

“The local illegal mining mafia has resorted to this horrific crime to silence the power of his pen,” said Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Ajay Singh. “The BJP government gives open protection to the local mining mafia. Recently Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and some of his Ministers were seen sharing the stage with wanted criminals. In such a situation, criminals have no fear of the law and commit such mind-numbing crimes with impunity whenever their interests are harmed.”

The crime came to light when Mr. Rai’s brother broke open the door on Saturday evening after he became suspicious on seeing it locked from the outside the entire day.

Linked to abduction?

The Umaria police believe the murders could also be linked to the kidnap of the seven-year-old son of a government official for ransom on Wednesday. He was rescued by the police on Thursday.

“DGP Raut visited the crime scene on Sunday and has ordered an STF probe,” Umaria SP Manohar Singh Jamara told The Hindu. “He also spoke to journalists here and assured them that the criminals would be brought to book as soon as possible. We have constituted a team to look into the crime and assist the STF which will arrive here tomorrow [Monday].”
Land dispute

Another angle the police are investigating relates to a land dispute involving Mr. Rai and another local individual.


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