Illegal Coal Mining in Eastern India: Rethinking Legitimacy and Limits of Justice
Reprinted in 2009 as a chapter in Sanam Roohi and Ranabir Samaddar (eds) Key Texts on Social Justice in India: Issues of Social Justice, Sage, 294-323
10 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2012
Date Written: December 8, 2007
Commonly presented as arising from poor policing and corruption, and as raiders and destroyers of environmental commons, ‘illegal’ production and marketing of coal is a significant aspect of everyday life in eastern India. Such representations hide unpleasant social realities of the coal mining tracts: poor environmental performance of large mining projects of the state-owned mining sector, social disruption and displacement in both physical relocation and occupational changes of farming and forest-based communities, and a general decay in traditional subsistence bases of peasant and indigenous communities. To unveil the illegitimacy in mining and its various forms, this paper digs through the complex layers of mining laws and investigates whether the laws promote justice and equity and protect the interests of the disadvantaged. In doing so, it offers a rethinking of what causes and constitutes illegality with insights from the ground where a large number of people’s livelihoods depend on this kind of mining.
Keywords: Informal mining, India, coal, illegal
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