India mining industry 'out of control'

Young boy carrying coal at a mine in India Campaigners say the mining sector in India is largely unregulated

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The Indian government has failed to enforce laws to protect human rights and the environment in the country's mining industry, says a rights group.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says this lack of enforcement has led to "pervasive lawlessness" in the mining industry.

In a new report, the group alleges that irresponsible mining operations have damaged the health, water, environment and livelihoods of local communities.

India has been hit by several mining scandals in recent months.

In a 70-page report report "Out of Control: Mining, Regulatory Failure and Human Rights in India, which was released on Thursday, HRW says poor policies have meant little supervision of mining operations.

"Mining operations often cause immense destruction when government doesn't exercise proper oversight," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said.

"The government has encouraged lawlessness by failing to enforce the law or even monitor whether mine operators are complying with it," she added.

Mining scandals

The report says that India has laws on the books to protect mining-affected communities from harm, but "their enforcement has essentially collapsed".

HRW says the report was compiled after talking to more than 80 people in the states of Goa and Karnataka - two mineral-rich states that have been hit by mining scandals recently - and also activists, affected communities, government officials and mining companies.

Mining scandals have grabbed headlines in India recently.

Last August, BS Yeddyurappa had to quit as Karnataka chief minister after he was implicated in an illegal mining scandal. The state ombudsman said it had cost Karnataka $400m (£250m). Mr Yeddyurappa denies the charges.

In November, a report alleged that nearly half the iron ore exported from the western state of Goa was illegally mined.

India is the largest producer of sheet mica, the third largest producer of iron ore and the fifth largest producer of bauxite in the world.

India's metal and mining industry was estimated to be $106.4bn (£68.5bn) in 2010.

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