The draft Mining Policy has been declared by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. It permits mining to the extent of 45 mt inclusive of exploitation of the dumps to the extent of 25 mt. Per se, it is a good concept since it permits use of the already excavated materials without further destruction of our natural resources.
The argument that it is to be flogged at once would not hold ,since the technology for the use of low grade ores developed by China will stay considering that natural resources are a fast depleting commodity . The issue ,as of now ,is that a lot of the dumps are in catchments areas, and having been there for several years are now wooded, albeit with rubbish acacias for the most part. On excavation there will be massive run-of of mud into the water bodies, particularly because of their location.
The draft mining policy should include fool-proof containment methods. It would also balance out any conflict of interest if PWD engineers could be mandated to look after the approval of the necessary earth retaining structures . Ideally, the balance rejects could be repatriated to rehabilitate the abandoned pits and hopefully over time, some land will auto balance to fertility .
The next issue is the massive truck movement required to move these rejects . It is reported that a fatal accident occurred every 3rd day due to mining traffic . It is time there was a greater use of barges and offshore trans-shipment so that the ore is moved only to the shortest length by trucks . There are a large number of persons living in the mining belt . Their lives involve risk of accidents , pollution of air, water and flow of rejects into their fields .
Yearly pay-offs for crops lost is not compensation , but exploitation since it does not account for lost of fertility and , with lowered water table , to barren lands and ultimate destitution of these people . A system of plowing back of a larger part of mining profits for rehabilitation with alternate lifelong trades should be in place .