[Model Answer QP2021 GS1] Despite India being one of the countries of the Gondwanaland, its mining industry contributes much less to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in percentage. Discuss.

The Gondwanaland of India is the current peninsular plateau and it is endowed with very rich mineral resources such as Iron, Manganese, Bauxite, Chromite, Copper and Limestone.
However, the mining sector of India contributes only 2.2% to 2.5% to the GDP of the country.

Reasons for its mining industry contributing much less to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in percentage

1. Development vs Conservation dilemma: The mineral rich areas also overlap with rich forests of India. For instance, Odisha is has the largest reserves of Iron ore but also has a rich forest cover.

2. Environmental: Unsustainable Mining activities. For Ex: Rat hole Mining in Meghalaya.

3. Climatic factors: The unpredictability of monsoons increases the risk of mining. Very high rainfall can disrupt the mining areas, flood the rivers adjacent to the mining areas and also block accessibility to these mining areas. Ex: Damodar valley in Chotanagpur plateau.

4. Tribal Population: Mineral rich areas are dominated by tribal population who happen to be forest dwellers.

5. Labour: Labour Productivity of India is very low in the mining sector compared to the world.

6. Institutional factors: The mining sector ails from the requirement of multiple clearances such as Environmental/forest clearances. Also Highly restricted licensing regimes disincentivizes private players to indulge in mineral exploration.

7. Technological Factors: Modern Technology adoption is slow as mining has been an exclusive domain of the government. Ex: coal India’s monopoly in coal sector.

8. Security Challenges: The area is dominated by Naxals who further hinder mining activities.

CASE STUDY: : The Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC), a state body responsible for issuing mining licences, held a public hearing for undertaking cluster mining in a 24 hectare area in Nimmalapadu and two other Fifth Schedule villages.

A public hearing on April 19, 2023 for granting mining licences in a Fifth Schedule village in Andhra Pradesh was met with slogans to “go back” by tribal community members.

Shift to clean energy means race for minerals is accelerating. Hence India must accommodate private players and new technologies to improve prospecting, exploration, and mining minerals.

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