The exploitation of natural resources to benefit select industrial houses under the pretext of catering to the socio-economic requirements of the people has become a matter of serious concern. Of course, for the economy to grow we cannot avoid utilising natural resources. The question is: How should we make use of them?
The answer to this simple question is not simple because the issue of utilisation of natural resources is a sensitive matter. Of late, the wrongful allocation of scarce resources such as oil, gas, iron ore and coal by unscrupulous elements has brought the issue into focus.
Examples of how public money has been virtually looted include the 2G spectrum scam, the coal gate scam, irregularities in the exploitation of natural gas in the KG basin, and allocation of iron ore mines in Karnataka. What is alarming is that while states lose huge chunks of revenue due to dubious methods of allocation of natural resources, corporate exploitation of resources to bolster financial prospects ignoresthe consequent ecological imbalance which affectsthe habitat of the regions concerned. But amid all this noise, there is a more fundamental question that has not been asked — what is it really that we are losing?
The loss to national exchequer is the manifestation of only one world view. It is a computation of the loss in rupees incurred by the national treasury because a whole set of people ducked the system. But in fact, the country is losing much more than revenue.According to a Greenpeace India report over 1.1 million hectares of forest are at risk from coal mining in 13 coalfields in central India that the report analysed; 40 others still remain to be evaluated. The estimated loss of Rs1.86 lakh crore is only the notional value of a single resource; it does not include the value of anything. The land is scarred, without concern for economic losses nor legalities.
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