‘Lokayuktas can help control rampant mining’June 15th, 2012 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS
Panaji, June 15 (IANS) New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)has advocated powerful Lokayukta institutions in Indian states as one of the ways to control the rampaging mining industry from encroaching on citizens’ rights and curbing corruption.
The international rights body released its 70-page report titled ‘Out of Control: Mining, regulatory failure and Human Rights in India’ in Goa Thursday.
“Consider the creation of new Lokayukta institutions, or bolster those offices already in existence, ensuring that they benefit from adequate levels of independence, resources and human capacity along the lines of Karnataka state’s institutional model,” the report recommends to state governments.
The report, which presents mining scenarios in Karnataka and Goa as case studies, also advocates that the state governments should channelise a part of the revenue earned from the mining industry to fund the office of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
“They should also work to establish strong and effective Lokayukta (anti-corruption ombudsman) institutions, or bolster the institutions they already possess. Where any or all of these institutions require additional financial resources, governments should consider earmarking a portion of revenues earned from the mining industry for that purpose,” the report advocates.
It has also said that communities affected by the no-holds-barred mining activity in Karnataka, as well as Goa, had evoked similar stories of suffering.
“The human and environmental toll of Karnataka’s illegal mining boom has not been objectively measured. But activists and members of some affected communities allege that many have suffered real harm that went on unabated and unaddressed for several years during Karnataka’s illegal mining boom. Their complaints mirror the human rights impacts of irresponsible mining operations in Goa and elsewhere in India,” it says.
Describing Karnataka’s Lokayukta institution as “unusually powerful and well-resourced”, the HRW report states that its chairman Santosh Hegde’s report had documented extensive criminal activity linked to the state’s mining sector as well as a “total failure of all supervisory machinery” maintained by government institutions, and patterns of official collusion that sustained these problems.
“Hegde’s report was stunning in the sheer amount of detail that it presented. With that report, the publicity around Karnataka’s mining scandal grew to such proportions that it was a severe national embarrassment and a political liability to the opposition BJP, which controlled Karnataka’s state government,” the report states.
The HRW report has overall indicted the Indian establishment and mining corporations for creating a culture of systemic chaos, corruption and bad policies which end up in large scale violation of human rights.
–indo-asian news service
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