ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Gold Mining Institutions in Nilgiri–Wayanad

An exploration of the complex development of gold mining in the Nilgiri–Wayanad region of southern India demonstrates how entwined histories disrupt simple taxonomic structures of “formality” and “informality.” Drawing on the long history of gold mining in the region that dates back to the 1830s, this paper presents a counter-example to the conventional view that institutions develop in a trajectory of informality to formality. To do this, the paper identifies three distinct phases of development in the gold mining industry of this region that mark and encompass shifts in governance of the area, global economic trends, commercial investment, property rights, government funding, influx of repatriate communities, and other social issues in the local economy. The analysis concludes that institutions in the region have evolved from formal–artisanal to formal–industrial, and then to informal–small scale.

Land Acquisition and Dispossession

This article presents an investigation into strategies employed by privately-owned companies to gain access to land for resource extraction in Jharkhand where much of the land being put under the shovel is inalienable adivasi or tribal land and deedless commons. It concludes that although policy reforms are welcome, cosmetic changes in mineral governance laws are inadequate to protect the interests of the poor. It suggests an alternative vision, a complete overhaul of mineral ownership to allow the poor to share the revenue benefits.

Illegal Coal Mining in Eastern India:Rethinking Legitimacy and Limits of Justice

Commonly presented as arising from poor policing and corruption, and as destroying the environmental commons, "illegal" production and marketing of coal is a significant aspect of everyday life in eastern India. Representations of illegality hide unpleasant social realities of the coal mining tracts: poor environmental performance of the state-owned mining sector, social disruption and displacement of communities, and a general decay in the traditional subsistence base. This paper works through the complex layers of mining laws and investigates whether the laws protect the interests of the disadvantaged. It offers a rethinking of what causes and constitutes illegality when a large number of people's livelihoods depend on this kind of mining.