Close on the heels of assuming charge as the minister of mines, Piyush Goyal– who already holds the independent charge of power, coal and renewable energy ministries, is confident of exploiting India’s vast deposits of mineral resources through positive engagement with the state governments and the local people living close to mining areas.
Goyal is also confident of generating huge job opportunities for the locals and people of India at large with the abundant mineral wealth that the country holds.
The new National and Atomic Mineral Exploration Policy, announced recently, already aims to explore new mining areas across India thereby contribute the presently not-so-explored mining sector’s share to the country’s GDP.
Talking about the District Mineral Foundations (DMF’s) under the newly-introduced Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana, Goyal said this will prove to be a game changing decision.
DMFs, to be set up in districts areas where mining takes place, will raise money out of every tonne of minerals produced and these funds will be used to serve and meet the needs of the local people.
Goyal said the DMFs would create a corpus of $one billion (or Rs 6500 cr) a year and may even go upto $2 bn with increased mining activity. “Imagine this kind of money flowing into welfare of locals and the transformational impact it will have on tribal areas like Dhanbad, Korba and others,” he added.
This kind of money flowing into tribal and local areas also increases the possibility of reviving most big-ticket mining projects in India, that have been stuck for various reasons.
Asked to comment, Goyal told a gathering of reporters that he will discuss these projects with state governments and provided the states and locals want these projects, he will take further action.
“While those projects that are involved in litigations may take time but if there are projects that have been languishing for want of clearances or other issues, and if the state government’s are willing, I see no reason why these mining projects cannot be revived,” Goyal said.
The minister’s statement raises hope for reviving two of India’s big-ticket investment projects including the $12 billion plus integrated steel project of South Korean firm-Posco as also the bauxite mining project of NRI billionaire Anil Agarwal promoted Vedanta Resources in Niyamgiri Hills –both of which are in Orissa.
However, the minister also made it clear that the interests of the locals will be first adhered to as his government’s priority was to first look at the interest of people living there.
“I will discuss projects where there is a possibility of reviving them unless it is a complete ‘no-no’ from the state government…also our first priority will be the local people, their well-being and livelihood, environmental concerns…but this doesn’t mean that we cannot discuss those projects (stalled/jinxed). I will examine the issue and have a conversation of these projects with the Orissa government,” Goyal said in response to reviving of the Posco and Niyamgiri projects.
Goyal said he will look at the possibility of doing these projects through “efficient mining, pollution free mining or ways that can generate livelihood for local people…but to do this, we will need the state government to be completely on board.”
Currently, Writing a Book for Penguin India Titled Greased Pole:How Politics and Lobbying Stifled India’s Energy Dreams. The author can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org (9810661825)
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