Poor regions left out of industrial growth benefits: CSE

March 28th, 2008 - 11:04 pm ICT by admin  

Ranchi, March 28 (IANS) The benefits of modern industrial growth do not necessarily percolate to the poor regions from where the industries get their minerals, water and energy, says the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in a book released here Friday. The book, titled “Rich Lands, Poor People - Is Sustainable Mining Possible?”, says mineral industries are flocking to Jharkhand, lured by the state government’s sops.

But for all its mineral wealth, the state performs very poorly in terms of human development indicators. Almost 44 percent of Jharkhand’s population is below the poverty line. Jharkhand, in fact, has the second highest number of poor people after Orissa in the country.

“Modern industrial growth requires resources of the region - minerals, water or energy. It does not require people. Neither does it necessarily provide local benefits,” said Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s associate director and one of the writers of the book.

“If it provides employment benefits, it is outside the poor region in which it is based. It degrades the land and uses up local water, but does little to return back the wealth. Worse, the royalty on minerals goes to state exchequers, not to local communities. This will have to change,” he said.

Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi released the book Friday evening.

Speaking on the occasion, CSE director Sunita Narain said: “If India’s forests, mineral-bearing areas, regions of tribal habitation and watersheds are all mapped together, they will overlay one another on almost the same areas.”

She said: “The three tribal-dominated states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh are the most productive mineral-bearing states. The forest cover in these states is far higher than the national average.”

Jharkhand, for instance, accounts for nine percent of India’s forests - it also holds 29 percent of India’s coal and 14 percent of iron ore reserves. The percentage of area under forest cover in all the mining districts, barring Dhanbad and Bokaro, is more than 20 percent.

Despite its mineral wealth, the state has a very high percentage of households without food sufficiency. Only 50 percent of Jharkhand’s people have access to safe drinking water, and just half the population is literate.

It is, therefore, not surprising that 86 percent of the state’s districts feature in the list of 150 most backward districts of the nation. Except Dhanbad and Ranchi, all the mineral producing districts of the state are in the list.

Speaking on the occasion, the governor said: “There is need to formulate policy to promote economically viable, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable water management systems.”

“There is also a need to frame policies to ensure that indigenous people benefit from developmental projects and those which are likely to have adverse impact are avoided or mitigated.”

The 356-page book focuses on the mining taking places in different states and its hazardous impact on people.

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