India's Growing Resource Extraction Conundrum

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Continued from Part One.

How can India get over its bureaucracy problem, especially when it comes to metals and mineral mining?

Licenses in India had been granted for mineral extraction based on maps that bore little resemblance to the mine that was eventually built, extraction rates were sometimes a factor of ten higher than agreed to, and the over-production was illegally exported with no state royalties or taxes being paid.

Fraud on such a scale requires widespread corruption, and that was no doubt a part of the problem, but tribal groups and farmers can be excused for being wary of new applications when so many in the past have devastated the wider environment and compensation has never been paid.

India only has so much productive arable land and limited forests, yet this report by the Centre for Multi-Disciplinary Development Research in India states that out of about 306 million hectares of land available for any utilization, the country has already reduced as much as 104 million hectares to wastelands for future generations to try and scrape a living.

India is a relatively densely populated country, and according to this site’s measure, it has 954 people per square mile, compared to what we consider to be crowded — Britain at 650, populous China at 365 and the United States at 84. Loss of arable land, loss of forests, and pollution of water supplies have a progressively greater impact on heavily populated countries for obvious reasons.

India is a country still rich in minerals and metallic ores and has a metals industry that is capable of competing on the world stage, not to overlook an industrializing society in desperate need of domestic resources to meet its growing needs.

Maybe with so many conflicting priorities, a bureaucratic muddle is not too unexpected, but clearly it is an area of government responsibility that needs to be addressed — without responsible resource extraction, India hasn’t a hope of meeting the expectations of its still-growing population.

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