Saturday, May 12, 2007

Prospective of KBK in Mining and Industries

Pratisruti Plus, May 1~15, 2007, PDF

KBK is a mineral and natural resources rich region in the state, mainly bauxites, gem stones, graphite, manganese, limestone, quartz, diamond etc are abundantly present in the region, but these resources are limited and not in the scale of Orissa’s North-Western region that has huge deposits of coal, chromites, iron ores, and other minerals. Coal is the basic need for most of the mineral and mining based industries in an energy starving country like India. Therefore, most of the proposals coming to Orissa in mining and mineral based industries are either in the coal rich North-Western region or in the costal region which is proxy to port for export market.

KBK which has neither coal deposits nor proxy to any port in Orissa has unimpressive industrial proposals in mining and mineral based industries. Except NALCO in Damanojodi no other major mining industry was located in KBK. Recently some graphite based and ferro alloy industries of small scale size are being established in this region. The most cited mining based industrial proposal in KBK in recent times is the Alumina Refineries in Kashipur and Lanjigarh. However, these industries are often more known for controversies and political power struggle rather than actual progress. In fact political and environmental problems associated with these plants are so much complicated that it’s not only slowing down the implementation of the project but also discouraging other industrialists to invest in this region. KBK has a large forest area and people should bear in mind that a small environmental and forest degradation for development of industries in this backward region would be worthy for its social development. Social workers and politicians should rather be seriously concerned about other sources like forest fire, deforestation, etc which is really degrading large sum of forest land and environment in the KBK region.

In the mean time the state government should also encourage industrial houses to establish industries in backward KBK region rather than focusing only in few regions in Orissa. For example, Vedanta Alumina has recently signed a MOU to establish alumina-aluminium complex in Lanjigarh and Jharsuguda. There are many proposals around Jharsuguda for mining based industries like steel, thermal plants etc, some of which are of large scale; therefore, environmental degradation in this region will be quite higher. It could be possible to shift some of the industries to other less degraded region like KBK. For instance it would have been wiser if initially the state government could have negotiated with the Vendant Alumina to make its entire proposed complex including the proposed aluminium smelter in Kalahandi (Lanjigarh) or KBK region instead of Jharsuguda.

State government has made a special tax benefit for industrialists to establish industries in KBK. However, it is not enough to bring investment to a backward region like this. So, emphasis should be given by the state government in such a way that industrialists are convinced to invest in KBK region. For example, Orissa government has already signed 43 MOUs for steel industries in Orissa and many big players like POSCO, Arcelor-Mittal, Tata, Jindal etc are investing in this sector. The government has enough proposals for steel for a state like Orissa, so now onwards it should focus on their proper implementation and make a new rule that any new steel industry must come in KBK, otherwise mining right would not be provided to that company.

Many parts of KBK region have not made any scientific survey for minerals though the region has potential for minerals like gemstones, diamond, gold, bauxites, iron ores, quartz, graphite, manganese etc. The state government should take initiative in this regard.

Unless state and central government give special attention to establish industries in KBK by developing infrastructure and giving special emphasis, the development of this part of the planet is in darkness. Mining as well as agriculture are Orissa’s core assets towards developments at this hour. One in expense of the other will spoil the development of Orissa. Both should be treated as two sides of a coin towards development. Therefore, any thing that would mix both the issues would bring chaos that Orissa is going through presently. The best way is to treat both industry and agriculture with equal importance to come out from the acute poverty and backwardness in KBK. Indeed, prospective of KBK lies in its industrial growth to which the mining sector has the potential to contribute in a large way.

No comments: