Special Correspondent

Says decision to open up mineral sand-mining is in violation of CMP

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CPI(M) State committee has taken strong exception to the Central government decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in mineral sand-mining.

In a resolution adopted by the committee, which began its three-day meeting here on Saturday, the CPI(M) committee said the decision was in gross violation of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The Centre had come up with such a proposal at a meeting of State Industries Secretaries. The Kerala Industries Secretary had registered strong objection to the proposal. However, the Centre had gone ahead with the proposal. This showed that the Central government had surrendered itself to the pressures from global capital, the resolution alleged.

It pointed out that India had rich deposits of mineral sands such as ilmenite, rutile, zircon and monazite. Roughly seven per cent of the ilmenite deposits in the world are to be found in India. Of this, 38 per cent is to be found in the Kerala coast. It was estimated that 114 million tonnes of mineral sand deposits are to be found in the area between Neendakara and Thottappally in south Kerala. Of this, 99 million tonnes were ilmenite, which had infinite industrial potential. The LDF government had adopted the policy of allowing mineral sand-mining in the public sector despite such pressure. It had done so rejecting the privatisation policies of the previous UDF government.

Ecological concerns

The decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in mineral sand-mining would upset the environment equilibrium in the coastal belt. The mined mineral sands would mostly be exported to foreign countries. This would result in loss of the precious minerals that could be of great use for the country’s development needs. The decision would also be a major threat to industries using the minerals and might even force their closure.

The CPI(M) stand on the issue was that mineral sands should be exploited in a sustainable manner and used for manufacturing value-added products. Mineral sand-mining should be fully in the public sector. No foreign investment should be allowed in the sector. The Central government should immediately withdraw its decision to allow FDI in the mineral sand sector. If such a decision was not forthcoming, it would result in a strong agitation in the State, the CPI(M) resolution said.

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