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According to the Ministry of Mines, Jharkhand (7.72%), Chhattisgarh (6.65%), and Odisha (10.62%) account for about 24.9 percent of the country’s mineral production value.

Despite its mineral wealth, it is one of the country’s least developed regions. The metrics of health, education, employment and social inclusion remain low.

Causes of slow growth and social indices:

Historically, the region has exploited its mineral resources without concern for the environment or the local people. The impoverished and vulnerable locals have little say in high level decisions. Even Gram Sabhas don’t do their job.

Locals oppose rapid urbanisation and industrialisation due to mistrust in governance practises, which has led to the rise of Naxalism.
Several settlements are isolated, making it difficult to conduct government programmes like immunisation and literacy promotion.

Negative effects of mining: Mining directly affects locals’ health. Cancer incidences in adjacent villages of Jharkhand’s Jaduguda mines due to radioactive waste are well documented.

Remedial actions:

The MMDRA Act 2015 requires that 60% of DMF funding be used for high priority sectors such drinking water supply, health care, sanitation, education, skill development, women and child care, elderly and disabled welfare, and environmental conservation.

To establish a sustainable livelihood for the impacted individuals, the PMKKKY must be expedited.

Institutional approaches: The National Mineral Policy 2019 proposes establishing an inter-ministerial committee to advise the Government on royalty, dead rent, and other matters.

Infrastructuring:

Improving connectivity and increasing irrigated area (currently 16.6% in Chhattisgarh and 7% in Jharkhand) are urgently required.

GI tags enable local producers make money, promote tourism, cultural heritage, and regional identity while maintaining traditional skills.

Ex: Odisha’s Kotpad Handloom, Chhattisgarh’s Bastar Iron Craft, etc.

The use of minor forest products like Tendu leaves, jute, and handloom items has enormous potential to help the local economy.

This scheme attempts to develop and promote tribal rituals, festivals, customs and culture. Respect for the tribal way of life is also required for national integration.

Conclusion:

Developing Eastern States is key to achieve SDGs. (1, 2, 3, 4, 4) and 10 (No Poverty, No Hunger, Good Health, and Well-Being) (Reduced Inequalities).

All regional development policies should follow the ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ ethos. We need inclusive and sustainable growth.

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