Assembly in Session // Has Mining helped Orissa? The question is directly put to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, history will certainly note, has squandered away Orissa’s mineral wealth in the name of earning for the State Exchequer. I have written on the subject so many times in these pages. Without going to any further elaboration, I will prefer to place here what his Minister of Mines Sri Prafulla Mallik has put on records in answering a query from Sri Dillip Ray (BJP) in the Assembly.

According to the Minister, the State has earned Rs. 5305.58 crores in the last financial year (2014-15) against mining worth Rs. 54,491.69 crores. In the preceding year (2013-14) the revenue earned was Rs.5,519.57 crores against mining worth Rs.54,556.73 crores. In 2012-13, the State had earned Rs.5,679.35 crores while Orissa was denuded of minerals worth Rs.34,994.28 crores.

Loss:Nine time more than income

Thus, according to the government, Orissa has been denuded of minerals worth Rs.143,940 crores and 70 lakhs during only three years from 2012-13 to 2014-15, while earning for its exchequer a sum of only Rs.16504 crores and 50 lakhs. It shows that the loss we have suffered is about nine time more than what we have earned value wise. But our loss is a permanent loss which can never be recovered.

Minerals are not created in a day. They take millions of years to be formed. Naveen and his likes, voted to power for a term of five years only, are finishing our mineral wealth oblivious of the needs of our future generations, obviously for private payola, when, as admitted in the above noted answer of the minister, the money earned for public exchequer is around one-tenth of the we have given away in present value.This income is also too marginal if we consider the cost of health hazard caused by mining.

Cost of health hazard

Orissa government is deliberately not examining the cost of health hazards to which people are dragged into by the mining and related industries.

A single case study, which is the only research on the subject available so far,  covering a small patch of Anugul and Talcher years ago, gives us a chance to imagine to what unfathomable extent of damage mining and related industries are subjecting us to.

Dr. M. Mishra shows the light

Scholar Dr. M. Mishra had conducted a case study of environmental economy in a micro level, under the head “Health Cost of Industrial Pollution in Angul-Talcher Industrial Area in Orissa, India”. In this research done a decade ago, Dr. Mishra has quantified the”health cost of pollution” to be Rs.1775 per annum in the average, only in the small patch of area under his research. This was when cost of health care was 200% less that the prevailing cost.

Just imagine what the cost of health damage management would be at the present rate all over Orissa!

Will the Assembly in session note of it?

The Orissa Assembly is in session. Will it take note of it? It should, by way of a Resolution, ask the Chief Minister to appoint a Study Commission comprising a proficient team of environmentalists, health-scientists and economists, I can say the path-finder in the matter Dr. Mishra should be included, to study the cost of the health damage caused to whole of Orissa by mining. Will the Chief Minister, as the leader of the House, in case neither any member nor the Chair takes such a move, himself be responsible enough to appoint the suggested Study Commission to determine the cost of health hazard our people are being forced to face due to mining and industrial pollution and re-draw the mining and industrial development plans/projects on the basis of the suggested study and stop all mining and polluting industries till then? The question is put to him directly in public interest with a live rider: Has mining helped Orissa?

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