Bhubaneswar, Dec 22: Areas rich in minerals, forests, wildlife and water sources are home to the poorest people, but mining contrary to government's claim did little for the development of the area and its people, a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
The 356 page report ''Rich land, poor people: Is sustainable mining possible? '', released here yesterday by Orissa Governor M C Bhandare said mining had never generated employment nor contributed to the development of the local area.
On the contrary, poverty had increased in many of these areas, the report claimed.
Briefing newsmen here, CSE Director Sunita Nayar disputed the claim that mining was essential for the growth, stating that the mining areas were on the other hand the least developed areas of the country.She said it happened as the wealth generated in the mining area was never spent in the area for the development of local people.
The study recommended for policy reform for sustainable management of mining and suggested not to allow mining without the consent of the people.
Ms Nayar said Orissa accounted for seven per cent of India's forest, 11 per cent of water resources, 24 per cent of coal, 98 per cent chromite and 51 per cent of the bauxite resereve of the country but it has a human development index of 0.404, which was worse than that of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
The state's per capita income had declined during the second half of the 1990, the period when state witnessed industrialisation.
All the mineral-rich districts of the state featured in the list of 150 most backward districts of the country, she said adding 62 per cent of the people in Keonjhar, the most mined district in Orissa, 79 per cent of the Koraput district, the bauxite capital of the country, live below poverty line.
The report said during 1950 and 1991 mining displaced around 2.6 million people but not even 25 per cent of these had been rehabilitated. For every one per cent that mining contributed to the country's GDP, it displaced four times more people than all the developmental projects put together. Mining of major minerals generated about 1.84 billion tone of waste in 2006 but most of which were not disposed of properly, it said.
The report said Orissa has the dubious distinction of clearing 17 per cent of forest land, the maximum in the country for mining and displacing five lakh tribal people.
The water resources in the state were stressed, so also the natural springs, the Brahmani, the second largest river figured among the country's ten most polluted rivers due to largescale mining operations on its bank.
The CSE report said though the successive governments justified the mining, claiming that the sector would provide employment but between 1999 and 2005, while the mineral production in the state increased threefold, the employment reduced by 20 per cent.
The report said the mineral industry degraded the land, used local water but did little to return wealth. The royalty on the minerals also went to the state exchequer, but not to the local communities.
Stressing the need for change in policy, the report recommended not to go for mining without the consent of the people, impartial preparation of Environment Impact Assessment Report, banning of mining in forest areas, framing of stronger mine closure regulations for sustainable mining.