India’s Mining Regulation
A Chance to Correct Course
India’s natural wealth risks turning into a curse if the proposed Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill fails to address extreme poverty, environmental degradation, and weak rule of law in mining regions.
The mining sector’s current situation, with socially and environmentally disruptive practices making news regularly, is a powerful reminder that change is required. The proposed Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill offers a unique chance to lay a sound basis for responsible extraction of the country’s natural resources. A series of amendments in India’s legal framework over the past two decades have opened the mining sector to private investments. It was hoped that this would support economic development in some of India’s poorest states. However, the reality is different. Human development indicators in mining-intensive states are stagnating when compared to the country average. Without strong regulations, mines too often damage the environment and hamper the livelihood of local populations, or displace them without adequate compensation. Large-scale illegal mining fills individual pockets instead of supporting a strong stateapparatus. The violent conflict that spreads in many mining regions adds to the urgency of correcting the course.