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Carrying the mass of over hundreds and thousands of workforces, India’s Mining Sector is an exceedingly essential element of the economic drift in the country. But the improper regulation of the framework inhibited there can lead to myriads of issues which are evident through an extensive list of disasters that occur globally. The amount of mayhem that prevails in the mining arena of the country is tough to exaggerate which even the government officials acknowledge. The collapsing framework mechanism fails to ensure even the compliance of operators towards the law and the rights of the public. It is also a well-known fact that a deteriorating impact on the communities will be likely unless vigilance is applied by the mine operators. The timely and effective governmental regulations are a prerequisite for the dedicated and responsible efforts of the companies. International law lays huge stress on Human Rights and often assure that these rights are kept on the supreme priority. The laws made nationally on the International layout are sometimes so weak that first they even seem to fail initially. The laws that are structured rightly often fail because of their shoddy implementation. Thus, as a consequence, these incorrigible mining operators play with the health, safety of people, and the environment of the entire community. All these issues surely point toward the collapsing national mining framework.


The mining sector is regulated through basically two central legislations which are the Mines Act, of 1952 and The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, of 1957. The responsibility of the sector lies upon the Ministry of Mines which regulates and fosters the mining activities across the nation. The ministry is responsible for the exploration of minerals apart from coal, atomic minerals, petrol, and natural gas; providing administration for the prospecting laws; and mining of non-ferrous minerals like zinc, lead, copper, etc. Section 2 of the MMDR Act, 1957 states that “It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the Union should take under its control the regulation of mines and the development of minerals to the extent hereinafter provided.” There are rules in place that underline the requisites for the adoption of the prospecting license or a mining lease and these rules are laid down in the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960. All the major minerals are the subject of the Central Government whereas State Governments have control over the minor minerals. The Federation of Indian Mining Industries (FIMI) is a union of all those who are engaged in the mining business. The suggestions about the desired altercations in the existing mining policy are given by FIMI to the government. 


The ecosystem of a country consisting of its Flora and Fauna gets immensely wedged by the mining activity around it. This has cast a huge impact on the alternative employment opportunities which cannot be taken resort to because of environmental degradation. This drives people towards taking up criminal activities to satiate their needs and desires. The primary reason behind this is that the dilapidation of the environment affects the common property at first like land, water, etc. The major issues include Air Pollution, Loss of Productive Land, Deforestation, Water degradation, etc. Its effect is the imbalance in the groundwater table, air pollution, vegetation destruction, etc. “More than 0.8 million hectares of land is under mining, a substantial portion of which lies in forest areas. Important coal, bauxite, iron ore, and chromite deposits in India are found in forests” The Supreme court in the case of MC Mehta vs Union of India dealt with the entire facet of what effect can mining have on the environment. It was held that clearance needs to be granted through the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report and no mining operation can be carried out without the green flag from the assessment mechanism. In another case of Ambica Quarry Works vs the State of Gujarat, the court was of the view that deforestation eventually leads to social menace because of the ecological imbalance that it causes and thus should be curbed. 


The Mining industry experts believe that the mining activity can be destructive and inherently dangerous if conducted in an unscrupulous way. International law lends huge importance to the human rights of individuals. It is not only the accountability of the government but also of the corporations to cater to all the duties levied on them which invariably require them to have policies in place to ensure the well-being of people employed therein. Practically dealing with the issues would require the government to obligate itself of taking appropriate measures for the prevention and redressal of such abuse by effectual policies. Human Rights Watch (HRW) had recorded statements from residents from mining-prone areas that emissions are an impounding reason for the respiratory issues among the people deteriorating their health. A 2001 study of mining areas in Goa found that overloaded ore trucks were responsible for “fugitive dust emissions…sharply exceeding the ambient national air quality standards for residential areas.” A person is prone to Silicosis and various other lung diseases if he/she is in exposure to silica. The team of HRW, while investigating in south Goa villages was also told by the residents that mines adjacent to the irrigation fields have intoxicated the rivers and villages through the disposal of waste. There has also been an impact on the crop yields as alleged by the farmers. Even the reports released by EIA do not explicitly cater to the affected community’s human rights. 


The mining sector of the country is overseen by the Indian Bureau of Mines and the Ministry of Mines at the Central level under the vigilance of the central government. Within these authorities, numerous agencies are engaged with broader responsibilities in this area. Besides all the authorities at the central level, there are also several state-level agencies, ministries, boards, and departments to create a top-to-bottom channel. But despite having multiple hands to work, these still fall short of effectual execution and the primary reason which is underscored is the cumbersome regulations by the government. A Bangalore-based lawyer and activist assert, “The rules are so stringent that not a single soul thinks of being able to comply with all of them”. It has been seen that another major issue lies in the approval of all the projects barring very few. It is an exception that government may not like some mining projects. According to the statistics collected by EIA Resource and Response Centre, “from 2006-2008 the ministry approved 587 new mining projects while rejecting only 10. From August 2009 to July 2010, the ministry approved 102 new mining projects while rejecting only three.” This suggests the frivolous attitude of the authorities during the approval process. Before conducting any kind of mining activity, it is passed through the various stages under EIA and all the clearances, granted or denied, are relied upon the reports of the EIA mechanism. The worst part is that the reports released through this mechanism are often faulty, inaccurate, etc. Dr. Satish Aggarwal who was the chairman of one committee that deals with granting approvals for such projects stated, “Our domain is the EIA report itself only….You have to believe the information provided by the [project] proponent is correct…Nothing beyond that can be done—if the data is false, we cannot know unless it is very glaring.” Besides all these, Corruption too appears to have grown worse with years passing on. The officials alleged that necessary clearances are almost impossible to obtain without using illegal means of bribing, etc. All these issues are evident in the crumpling regulatory framework in the sector. 


The mining regulatory framework of the country has glaring issues and thus needs focused and vigilant strengthening to revamp the sector. The mineral arena was already lagging due to the delayed liberalization of this sector, the current regulatory problems have worsened it all the more. Instead of lamenting over the negative facts, the time requires us to refurbish this sector through a coherent regulatory and clearance mechanism. The approval for any mining activity needs to be reasoned. The activity should be discouraged in the areas of the sensitive ecological system and biologically fragile areas. The abandoned mines should be again brought to use for productive purposes. Proper safety measures should be incorporated and residential mining should be discouraged. Laws related to the environment should be implemented strictly and judiciously, enforcing stricter punishments for the mining companies that do not oblige with the rules laid down. The Ministry of Environment and Forests should amend the 2006 EIA provisions to discuss and mandate extensive consideration of the impact on the community. Rigorous monitoring of mining projects will surely be a progressive step. Corruption is a widespread problem but Karnataka’s example can be incorporated in other states too. Karnataka state government has appointed a Lokayukta who is a state-level ombudsman that works towards dwindling corruption. This would not only overhaul the mining sector but also the complete corruption problem in the state and thus is a highly welcomed step. These recommendations, if adopted, can surely augment the tarnished image of the mining sector of the country.  


  1. Section 2, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
  2. Mukesh Dwivedi, Regulatory Framework of Minerals and Mining Industry in India in relation to Environmental Concerns: A Critical Analysis, file:///C:/Users/DELL/Downloads/SSRN-id3415706.pdf
  3. MC Mehta vs Union, AIR 2004 SC 4016.
  4. Ambica Quarry Works vs the State of Gujarat, AIR 1987 SC1073
  5. Mining, Regulatory Failure, and Human Rights in India;
  6. Ibid

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