<b>XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, <i> Session II (Winter Session) </i> </b>
XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II (Winter Session) Tuesday, December 7, 1999/Agrahayana 16, 1921 (Saka )


Type of Debate: GOVERNMENT BILL
Title: Further discussion on the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Amendment Bill, 1999. Moved by Shri Naveen Patnaik on 3rd December, 1999. (continued- Not concluded.)

TEXT :
14.18 hrs.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: The House will now take up further consideration of the Motion moved by Shri Navin Patnaik. Shri K.P. Singh Deo was on his legs and he may kindly proceed.

SHRI K.P. SINGH DEO (DHENKANAL): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I was on my feet that day. I was just mentioning that the Industrial Policy and Development Chapter of the Economic Survey 1998-99 had mentioned that the current year's deceleration has been most pronounced in the mining and manufacturing sector amongst the broad sectors and industrial production registered a growth of 3.5 per cent during April to December 1998, lower than the 6.7 per cent growth in April December 1997. I am sure, the hon. Minister would like to reverse this trend. But how is he doing this? Is he doing this by this amendment? He mentions in his opening remarks that he is keeping the interest of the mining industry in particular and the national interest in general; it will encourage vast investment and it is a progressive legislation. If one goes by the hon. Prime Minister's remarks at the Conference held day before yesterday, one will find that he says that the Government is for more reforms to attract foreign investments. The highlight of his own Ministry's Report of 1998-99 says one thing. The present year's Report has not come. This is what the Annual Report of the Ministry of Steel and Mines, which he had presided, says:

"These policy changes have attracted many multinational companies for investment in mineral exploration and mining. Forty three proposals for prospecting over large areas in pursuance of the October, 1996 guidelines covering an area of 60,000 sq.kms. in the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have so far been cleared. Out of these, 20 Prospecting Licences involving an area of about 30,000 Sq. Kms. in the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar have been granted during the first nine months of 1998-99. Prospecting Licences have been granted in

favour of Indian subsidiaries of well-known international mining companies like the BHP Minerals of Australia, Meridien Peak Resources of Canada, Metdist of UK, Phelps Dodge Corporation of USA and Rio Tinto of UK. 18,000 Sq. Kms. in Rajasthan have been given.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has so far cleared 51 proposals involving Foreign Direct Investment of about Rs.3158 crore in the mining sector. Out of these, 12 proposals with FDI amounting to Rs.474 crore were cleared in the first nine months of 1998-99."

So, this is why Shri Basudeb Acharia was opposing this Bill at the introduction stage.

He was saying that this is an open house for multinational corporations and foreign companies to loot and plunder our mineral wealth. My contention is that in our effort to get in more investment which is probably required at the moment, we should not throw out the gates wide open without taking safeguards. In this connection, I feel that the human and environmental aspects are totally absent in this amendment which is coming after 42 years. The original Bill was enacted in the year 1957. I have gone through the amendment and annexures very carefully but there is no mention about the environmental hazards or the environmental problems and the ways to tackle them or prevent them. Secondly, the human factor is totally lost.

Whenever there is mining or mining operations or development of minerals or value addition, whether it is in the case of BALCO in Chattisgarh area or NALCO in the area of former Chief Minister of Orissa, Shri Giridhar Gamang where the Alumina Plant is located or the smelter in my own constituency or the INDAL's plant at Baffulimali in Kalahandi district of Orissa, the first people to be uprooted are the tribals and people belonging to the weaker sections of the society. There is no rehabilitation and resettlement plan whatsoever for them. During Shrimati Indira Gandhi's tenure, when a smelter of NALCO was coming up in my constituency, she had insisted that those people who are going to lose their land should be rehabilitated, because they were not only losing land but they were also losing their livelihood. This was in the year 1981 and now we are in 1999 and the capacity of the smelter of NALCO is sought to be expanded now. The plant at Damanjudi has already been expanded, but those 1,357 families who were uprooted and who were substantially affected have not been resettled till now. Take, for instance, the irrigation projects like Rengali or Indravati or Manjore; even in the case of these projects nobody has been resettled and rehabilitated.

Sir, in one of the amendments, the Minister, instead of regulation and development, is now wanting development and regulation which is a good thing. He must concentrate on development in States like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and the North East. For the North East, we have got a Task Force, but in the case of eastern coast of India, we have no Task Force. In the quest for development, in the quest for getting foreign investment and in the quest for getting investment even from the NRIs or from Indians, we should not lose sight of human problems, because they bring not only environmental problems, but they become sociological problems like the question of resettlement and rehabilitation. Therefore, I would be happy if the hon. Minister, in his reply, can take the House into confidence and tell us as to what are the safeguards he is having to tackle environmental hazards. There is a relevant judgement delivered in the Andhra Pradesh High Court on the environmental problem in the case of the Pollution Control Board Appellate versus Shri V.N. Naidu, which has been reported in AIR-Supreme Court, 1999, P-812. In this judgement it is said that in the case of environmental dispute, the onus of proof is on the person who wants to change the status quo. It is a lengthy judgement and I would not like to go into details. But the onus of proof and burden lies in the person or the persons or the organisation which is seeking to change the environment, whether it is the NALCO or BALCO where the Government is a party or the INDAL which is coming up in Baffulimali.

My senior colleague, Shri P.K. Deo right from 1957 to 1980, used to raise here the matter about Indravati Project. Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput districts were known for famine, starvation, man-eating tigers and sale of children. Today, the same Kalahandi district is exporting `Basmati' rice because of Indravati.

I had the privilege of raising Half-an-Hour Discussion here about the INDAL Project. Prof. Soz, the then Minister of Environment, had given a categorical assurance that the impact analysis of environment on these projects will be strictly maintained. But today, Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, who is synonymous with the Green Revolution in India - the wheat revolution and the rice revolution - while chairing a panel of the Planning Commission, had to stop the bauxite mining in Goa. Based on the impact analysis of environment on that, they have taken the safeguards. But as far as Bafulimali is concerned, hon. Minister, Shri Patnaik's Ministry, is not taking care of the environment hazards. So, the life of the Indravati Project is being shortened. It took 28 years to get it sanctioned from the Centre. Today, the irrigation project, which is making Kalahandi the wheat basket of western Orissa or the granary of western Orissa, is sought to be silted. It is being endangered and no less a person than Prof. M.S. Swaminathan has written about it. Therefore, I hope that you will take steps to keep the word. The Ministers may change. But the Government is a continuous process. The Government's policy of safeguarding the environment has to be maintained consistently. It must keep to its word.

The same is the question about NALCO in Angul. Now, fluorosis and fluoride gas as well Alzhimer's disease are there. Again it is Prof. Swaminathan and two others who have said about the harmful effects of aluminium. Today, about 5,000 people in Angul area are suffering from Alzhimer's disease. They are exposed to the Alzhimer's disease as well as the aluminium gas which was let off by NALCO only a month back.

There are any number of statements in the Orissa newpapers. The MLAs and the trade unions have also been raising this issue. This is another threat after the flyash hazard given by the TTPS, Talcher. Many people got affected by the toxic wastes of the Talcher Thermal Station.

Now, NALCO is the worst. It is the latest culprit. The Orissa University of Agriculture Technology, which went into it, and the CRRI, Cuttack, have given a report that because of letting off of this heated gas, all the crops in areas of five panchayats starting from Sarja para Nowhata, Tulsipal, Garhsantri to Kulad have been destroyed. Now, they have to pay compensation to the farmers. But who is going to pay compensation to the people whose eyes, brains bones and knees have been irreparably damaged? There is an utter panic in the Angul area. The same thing is in Korba where BALCO, that is, where the red mud ponds, are located. It is again the tribals who have been uprooted. Environmental safeguards have not been taken there. No rehabilitation or resettlement plan been drawn up in BALCO, NALCO and at INDAL. So, I would like to have a categorical assurance about this.

There are two issues which I would like to bring to the notice of the hon. Minister. One of them, of course, figures in the Annual Report of his Ministry on page 33. There was a crisis in the NALCO plant which was supposed to be the most modern plant in Asia.

It has got Pecchine technology. It was dedicated to the nation some time in 1998. In page 38 of that Annual Report of the Mines Ministry, it is stated, `there was a crisis in NALCO where 300 pots, costing the exchequer Rs.300 crore, were damaged and a departmental committee was set up.' The report says that, `as a result of the Enquiry Committee, which submitted its report in August 1998, some action has been taken to rectify it'. But again there is no accountability, no responsibility, and no one has been held responsible or accountable for the collateral damage, for the lack of preventive maintenance, for the criminal neglect of one of the most sophisticated plan in India which should have lasted for more than 40-45 years but in ten years' time it got damaged. I do not think that we are going to recover that Rs.300 crore.

Mr. Minister, it is taxpayers' money, it is national resource which has been wasted. Now in the aftermath of that, that is, 1998, the NALCO Karmachari Sangha has written to me on the 23rd of October 1999, `Crisis in Smelter Plant of National Aluminium Company'. This crisis is referred to in this report of 1998. That was in the Potline I.

In spite of the hon. Minister's assurance to this House last year, because this is last year's report, this year again in the Potline II, similar things are happening, the Switchyard and the Rectifier have been damaged. The transformers have got damaged. The unions have been bringing it to the notice of the hon. Minister, but no action has been taken so far. In the meantime, senior executives have been given a safe passage, like in Kargil. They have retired and no on is answerable; not even the hon. Minister to this House.

What is going to happen if another Rs.300 crore or Rs.350 crore goes down the drain? The hon. Minister will very politely come and tell us that due to systems failure or management failure or because there was no preventive maintenance, this thing has happened and that they are taking corrective steps. But no one has been answerable or held responsible. So, I would request the hon. Minister to kindly take the House into confidence as to what action he is going to take against these recalcitrant officers, who have brought damage due to their inept handling, due to the inept management where they have allowed one of the finest plants to be ruined. It is his flagship industry and I think, this year it made a profit of more than Rs.500 crore and he is on the spree of expansion in that. Unless the hon. Minister takes corrective actions on these aberrations, this will continue and our public sector undertakings will start losing money and we will also get disrepute.

Now, I would like to know about the setting up of a high level committee outside the departmental committee which will be able to give us an objective report on what had happened, how to take preventive measures and how to avoid such things. I would be happy if the hon. Minister takes the House into confidence with regard to that.

The second one is more serious. The second one is by NALCO Shramik Congress Union, NALCO Karmachari Sangha, who have written on the 7th of October, `Multi-crore scam of the millennium in purchase of IAPL Plant by NALCO.' I do not know what is the policy of this Government. Sick private sector plants are being purchased through public money. Those plants, which have been proved to be a failure, are being purchased and now this scam, the multi-crore scam, if I may quote:

"The details of the case is that, after inauguration of NALCO Strip casting plant in 1998..." -- when hon. Minister was the Minister also -- "and its failure in market, M.S. Mukund found that setting up of the above plant is not economically viable and accordingly they decided to sell it to NALCO."

Now, NALCO is negotiating to buy Mukund Iron's IAPL, which was supposed to be based on the raw materials supplied by this smelter plant. Now, due to the failure of the NALCO plant itself, they are trying to sell it off.

It further says:

"As their plant was not even complete by 25 per cent during the last six to seven years, NALCO management was reluctant to purchase it. But after a lot of persuasion by the then CMD ... who is said to have taken ..."

I will not mention the name here because he is not here.

It further says:

"... at the verge of his retirement, the proposal of Mukund was considered and accordingly, to avoid the Audit Vigilance query, M/s. A.F. Ferguson was appointed to evaluate the assets and liabilities of M/s. IAPL."

Now, M/s. Ferguson was purchased by M/s. IAPL. It further says:

"Now, above what has been agreed contractually by NALCO, as a result, M/s. Ferguson estimated everything at higher side."

I do not want to go into the details. This has been sent to Mr. Vittal, CVC; the S.P., CBI unit; a copy has been sent to me; and a copy has been sent to the Secretary, Shri Verma.

So, I shall be very happy, Sir, if he takes us into confidence as to what is the deal between M/s. IAPL and NALCO; why we are taking an incomplete plant; and why we are allowing the plant to take over the land which has not yet been given by the Government of Orissa. They are taking over roads and communication which the villagers of the five Panchayats have been using for the last 100 years. If the plant has not been taken, then why the land has been forcibly taken over.

It is the question of the lives of millions of people, ordinary people, tribals and poor people. We have failed to guarantee their safeguard as far as their health and environment are concerned and at the same time we are taking away their land in the name of development or in the name of processing.

Sir, I have two more points. One is bauxite, about which I have already said. Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have probably about 90 per cent of bauxite available in India. Therefore, while it is welcome that we must exploit bauxite for our own use but we should not allow the plunder of our ores by foreign companies because the hon. Minister will know about it. The same thing has happened in Kiriburu, where we sold it off, 30 years back, at Rs.66 a tonne, FOB but what we have got was finished steel and iron from Australia and Japan. This ore could easily by processed here and we could have given employment to our youngsters here. We have any number of technically qualified and educated young people. We should not allow this type of loot and plunder of our mineral ores.

The next point is chromite. Ninety per cent of chromite available in India is located in Orissa. Ninety per cent of that is located in my constituency. Nothing has happened in the last 50 years in regard to exploiting that chromite ore to be used as to generate employment and to provide wages. I am sure, the hon. Minister from Orissa has the interest of Orissa at heart. This huge mineral deposit should not be given to the investors to take it away but we must apply all the scientific and technological innovations--the Minister himself has said that the state-of-the-art technology will be used--so that this ore can give employment by enrichment, or by development or by processing at a time when Orissa has been beset with one of the worst ever tragedies of the century, that is the cyclone and also the educated unemployed will get a chance to utilise their talents for the empowerment and prosperity of our State. Many of our Indian engineers are providing prosperity to other countries because of the brain drain and all that and also because the opportunity is not being given here.

Thank you very much.

SHRIMATI SANGEETA KUMARI SINGH DEO (BOLANGIR): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, at the very outset, I would like to compliment the hon. Minister for introducing the Mines and Minerals Regulation and Development (Amendment) Bill which delegates more powers to the States. Delegation of more powers to the State also happens to be a part of our Government's agenda. The introduction of the new concept of reconnaissance operations opens up vistas for deployment of state-of-the-art exploration technologies, and distinguishing it clearly as a stage of operation from actual prospecting operations, will accelerate exploration of mineral resources.

Another welcome aspect of the Bill is that it proposes to empower the State Governments to take suitable remedial measures for preventing illegal mining, which is a matter of great concern, as it deprives the State of an important share of revenue.


[NEXT PAGE]