Chhattisgarh announced a proposed investment of more than Rs 1,77,000 crore in the state. Until October 2008, it had signed over a hundred MoUs with companies like Jindals, Tata Steel and Essar. After a couple of months of this announcement, a bureaucrat heading the state environment regulatory body resigned.
“Development is the preferred option, provided the carrying capacity is available. There cannot be a trade-off at the cost of the health and livelihoods of the silent majority,” wrote Sardar Amrieet Prakash Singh, former chairperson of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (state EIA authority).
The minerals sector is a key driver for the country’s industrial growth. However, it has brought in its wake severe environmental repercussions and social conflicts. One of the greatest challenges, therefore, is how to make mining environmentally and socially acceptable. Unfortunately, most EIA/SIA reports either overlook or poorly interpret the critical issues related to a mining project.