PRESS RELEASE: Goenchi Mati Movement pleased with Government of India consideration of its proposal

GOA (31-Jan-2017): The Goenchi Mati Movement is pleased with the Government of India’s serious consideration of the ideas in its proposal based on Public Trust Doctrine and the principle of Intergenerational Equity.

The Economic Survey of India (2016-17) released by the Finance Minister in Parliament today recognises the implications of the Supreme Court judgement in the Goa Mining case: that natural resources are a shared inheritance that need to be preserved for future generations, and that in the case of sub-soil minerals, the states are trustees on behalf of the people.

The report explores the value of saving money from minerals in a non-wasting asset such as a permanent fund, and redistributing any real income to citizens. It emphasizes the importance of considering creative responses to avoid the risks and costs associated with the “natural resource curse.”

The report acknowledges the inputs of Rahul Basu from the Goenchi Mati Movement. The following quotes are taken from Chapter 13 of the report (The ‘Other Indias’: Two Analytical Narratives (Redistributive and Natural Resources) on States’ Development).

"13.46 One way to increase citizens’ participation is via creation of a dedicated Fund to which all mining revenue must accrue. The assumption here is that minerals are part of the commons, owned by the state as trustee for the people – including future generations. Therefore, the revenue from the natural resources should be saved in a non-wasting asset- in a Permanent Fund. The real income accrued by the Fund can be redistributed to citizens affected by and having a stake in the extraction of the resource. (Box 1)"

"Box 1: Supreme Court of India Judgement on Goa Mining

The judgment of the Supreme Court of India in WP 435/2012 (Goa Foundation vs UoI & Ors, the Goa mining case), was the culmination of a series of landmark judgements on the subject of managing natural resources in public domain. In this case, the apex court ordered a cap on mining as well as the creation of a Goan Iron Ore Permanent Fund to meet the ends of inter-generational equity and sustainable development. When considered along with earlier SC judgments on the public trust doctrine, notably CA 4154/2000 (Fomento Resorts & Anr vs Minguel Martins & Ors), and on the disposal of natural resources, notably WP 423/2010 (CPIL & Ors vs UoI & Ors, the 2G spectrum case), a new picture emerges for minerals.

What implications does the SC judgment carry for natural resource management?

Natural resources, including minerals, are a shared inheritance that needs to be preserved for future generations. As sub-soil minerals are largely owned by the States, and offshore minerals by the Centre, the states are the trustees on behalf of the people. The cap on mining in Goa is to ensure the availability of minerals over several generations as well as to limit the environmental damage from permitted extraction.

The proposal for exploring the creation of a Goan Iron Ore Permanent Fund is notable for being the first that has potential to be established by judicial action. Norway and over 50 other countries / sub-nations have created Permanent Funds based on extracting economic rent from oil or other natural resources. The oldest of these funds, in Texas, dates back to 1876."

"13.49 These measures have never been tried in India. But permanent funds have been utilised effectively in many other countries, while pilot projects for UBI are beginning. Introducing these mechanisms in India could be contemplated, if only because their risks seem small compared with the costs that would accrue if the "natural resource curse" materialised on Indian soil, as it has in so many other countries around the world. 

"13.50 In sum, large bounties-either in the form of redistributed resources or natural resources- can create surprising pathologies, even in democratic India. Recognizing and responding to them creatively will be important to avoid making the errors of history.Rahul Basu of GMM said: “We are happy that the Government of India is also considering implementing the core principles of the Goenchi Mati Movement. We hope the people and the politicians of Goa also keep the use of our natural resources and land at the core of their voting choices for the assembly elections. We cannot afford a third failed government, a third breach of the people’s trust.”

Claude Alvares of the Goa Foundation said that “the mention of the Permanent Fund proposals in the Economic Survey now indicates that though Goa was the first state to get such a Fund – because of the judgement in the Goa Foundation mining case – the idea of such a Fund is now being considered for all other states as well. This is a great contribution from Goa to the people of this country.”

The Goenchi Mati Movement is a single issue movement which is by policy not aligned with political parties. GMM has asked parties to endorse and incorporate the Goenchi Mati Manifesto into their manifestos for the Goa Assembly elections on Feb 4. The Goenchi Mati Manifesto is available at goenchimati.org/manifesto. It is available in English, with translations into Konkani (Devnagari, Romi), MarathiHindiKannada and Portuguese.  Show your support at goenchimati.org/supportAamchi Mati Aamka Zai!

Update: The extracts were re-ordered to place the box after para 13.46, and a link added to Chapter 13. 23-Feb-2017

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