Echoing eminent lawyer Harish Salve’s reported view that the Supreme Court is also to be blamed for the economic slowdown of the country, the Federation of Indian Mining Industries (FIMI) on Monday said some judgments of the apex court have led to around 23 lakh job losses, both direct and indirect, in the mining sector, excluding petroleum and natural gas. “Although the mining sector employed 23.23 lakh people in 2011-12, various judgments, including bans and restrictions on mining by the Supreme Court, has led to a significant drop in employment in the mining sector,” FIMI’s secretary general RK Sharma said.
Sharma said due to bans and restrictions imposed by the court, around 80,000 direct employee lost their jobs in Karantaka. The number is higher in Goa at one lakh. Huge penalty imposed by the apex court in February 2017 on 102 iron and manganese ore leases in Odihsa has also led to around 50,000 direct job loss. The ratio of direct to indirect employment in the mining sector is 1:10.
Taking cognisance of illegal mining, the Supreme Court had in 2011 stopped mining in 188 leases in Karnataka. Subsequently, it allowed mining in 115 leases. The apex court had in 2012 suspended all mining leases in Goa, but in 2014 granted renewals of leases with an annual production cap of 20 million tonne. However, with effect from March last year, it cancelled renewal of 88 mining, putting a blanket ban on mining operation in the state.
“The closure or limitation of production has crippled the mining industry and adversely impacted both direct and indirect employment. Many mines are finding it difficult to operate and closing down one by one, further creating a slump and increasing unemployment rate in remote and tribal regions,” Sharma said.
Unemployment has remained a major issue for India. As per NSSO’s annual employment-unemployment survey, 2017-18, unemployment rate among the labour force has risen dramatically from 2.2% in 2011-12 to 6.1% in 2017-18; workforce has shrunk by 47 million and that labour force participation rate has come down from 55.9% to 49.8%.
The mining sector emerged as the third largest in terms of generating job per unit increase in the sectoral GDP with an employment elasticity of 0.52%, next only to construction and finance & real estate. This implies that with every 1% growth in mining sector’s GDP, employment in the sector increases by 0.52%.