It’s very easy to mine in this country once you take the consent of the local communities. They are rational people. If the project is beneficial for them, they will agree. But, look at the development tribals get from these projects. Local communities get less than 5% of the jobs created by these projects. In the last 30-40 years, people displaced by projects have become destitute, not better off. The men have become rickshaw-pullers and the women have become sex workers. Is this what we mean by mainstreaming them? Industry should sit down and think about why its image is so poor.
National Advisory Council member and former bureaucrat N C Saxena headed the four member panel set up by Jairam Ramesh shortly after the PMO put pressure on the ministry to clear the project. In this short interview, he talks about why his report recommends Orissa Mining Corporation (the company that was to supply bauxite ore to Vedanta’s Lanjigarh plant) should not be permitted to mine on Niyamgiri hill. Excerpts.