Indian Maoists Fight Mining & Destruction
Posted by redpines on May 17, 2011
For a decade, a Maoist-controlled area in Jharkand, not far from some of India’s industrial strongholds, has been off limits to the state and captalist mining interests. The Maoists’ continued defense of these territories has likely prevented these interests from displacing tribal communities and destroying of their land. One police officer noted:
“If we have knowledge of mineral reserves, many private and public sector undertakings would be interested in taking up mining projects.”
The article originally appeared in The Times of India.
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Govt helpless as Maoists stall state mineral reserve survey
by Sanjay Ojha
May 17, 2011, 12.45pm
RANCHI: Survey on the state’s rich mineral reserves has been stalled because of Maoist-induced resistance by villagers. Though the state possesses rich reserves of iron ore, coal, mica, bauxite and uranium, the government is in no position to give details of the sources even 10 years after formation of the state of Jharkhand.
Sources in state mining and geology department allege serveral attempts in the past to assess the rich resources, enough to meet raw material requirement of industries for decades to come, have failed due to non-cooperation from villagers. “Whenever officials tried to assess the reserves, villagers opposed it. Our officers were not allowed to drill the crust in remote villages and deep forests,” said a source.
The government is especially blind to mineral reserves in rebel-infested areas of the state. Authorities allege Maoists force the villagers to oppose surveys to be able to maintain control over territories. There have been instances, when villagers have thrashed the surveyors and their assistants and warned of dire consequences if they returned. Mining sources say it is near impossible to take expensive drilling equipment to areas where local people are hostile.
One of officers confided Maoists force villagers to oppose the assessment survey to stop future mining projects on rebel-controlled territory.
“If we have knowledge of mineral reserves, many private and public sector undertakings would be interested in taking up mining projects. Once mining starts benefits of development will start reachi ng people living in remote areas, undermining the influence of rebels,” the officer said.
“We also had to face Maoists and members of splinter groups directly in rebel prone areas. At times the rebels even kept our men hostage for hours forcing the department to stop assessment work,” the source said, adding police also becomes helpless as they cannot accompany every survey team and spend months protecting them from the rebels.
In the face of the stalemate, recently deputy chief minister Hemant Soren, also in-charge of mining and geology department, was forced to come up with a public appeal to ensure smooth assessment of mineral reserves. “I appeal to people to cooperate in the mineral assessment work and not stop surveyors,” Soren had said.