Drones - new weapon in In­dia’s crack­down on il­le­gal min­ing

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY - MUM­BAI:

In­dia’s mines min­istry has told state gov­ern­ments to ex­plore the use of drones to check il­le­gal min­ing, as of­fi­cials crack­down on an ac­tiv­ity that has led to de­for­esta­tion and the use of child la­bor. A satel­lite-based min­ing sur­veil­lance sys­tem was launched last month, and the min­istry is now ex­plor­ing the use of un­manned ae­rial ve­hi­cles, or drones, to curb in­stances of il­le­gal min­ing, said a no­ti­fi­ca­tion dated Nov 1.

Drones can be used to mon­i­tor il­le­gal min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, check for ac­tiv­ity at night and to track il­le­gal truck move­ments, said Prithul Ku­mar, a di­rec­tor at the min­istry of mines, in the note. They can also mon­i­tor whether recla­ma­tion has been done as com­mit­ted when a mine is closed, and cal­cu­late the ex­tent of the green cover, it said. Drones are in­creas­ingly be­ing used around the world to check il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties and to sur­vey dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment. In Panama, indige­nous peo­ple are us­ing drones to mon­i­tor de­for­esta­tion on their lands.

In In­dia, Ut­tarak­hand state be­gan us­ing drones re­cently to check il­le­gal quar­ry­ing, while west­ern Ma­ha­rash­tra state has re­cently de­ployed drones to check il­le­gal sand min­ing. Il­le­gal mines in the coun­try of­ten hire child work­ers and mi­grant work­ers who are poorly paid and have few pro­tec­tions, ac­tivists say. Au­thor­i­ties re­cently raided mica mines in Jhark­hand state after a Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion ex­pose re­vealed a cover-up of child deaths in il­le­gal mica min­ing.

But drones alone won’t stop il­le­gal min­ing or pre­vent worker abuses, said Rana Sen­gupta, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the non-profit Mine La­bor Pro­tec­tion Cam­paign in Ra­jasthan state. “Drones can show you the ex­tent of the prob­lem, but if the in­tent is to check il­le­gal min­ing, you need to in­volve the vil­lages and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in the area,” said Sen­gupta. “We al­ready have the ca­pa­bil­ity to use satel­lite im­ages to see where il­le­gal min­ing is tak­ing place. Vil­lagers can be your eyes and ears far more ef­fec­tively in pre­vent­ing the ac­tiv­ity than drones,” he said. Re­search has shown se­cur­ing rights for indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and for­est dwellers helps pro­tect re­sources and con­serve the en­vi­ron­ment. — Reuters

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