Scathing report calls India's 2,600 mines 'out of control'

Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday that India’s government "has failed to enforce key human rights and environmental safeguards"  in the sub-continent's resource industry.

The 70-page report finds that "deep-rooted shortcomings in the design and implementation of key policies  have effectively left mine operators to supervise themselves."

The report describes "pervasive lawlessness in India’s scandal-ridden mining industry" and the collapse in enforcement of laws to protect local communities:

India’s government has systemically failed to ensure that the country’s 2,600 authorized mining operations adhere to key human rights and environmental protections under Indian law, Human Rights Watch found. These problems are related to and have facilitated a series of high-profile corruption allegations in the mining industry that have rocked India in recent years. Illegality in the mining sector has deprived state governments of badly needed revenues, threatened the industry with costly and unpredictable shutdowns, and generated political chaos that helped bring down two state governments in 2011 and 2012.

“Mining scandals may grab headlines, but the root causes of India’s mining problems are more basic,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government has encouraged lawlessness by failing to enforce the law or even monitor whether mine operators are complying with it.”

The report states that only a few dozen central government officials oversee the environmental and human rights impacts of  India's mines and many other industries and at state level monitoring is almost non-existent.

In effect, the authorities rely almost exclusively on information provided by mine operators themselves when it comes to the environmental and social impact of new projects and existing mines.