News You Really Need To See: “India Targets Maoist Jungle Stronghold to Win Mining Riches”

“India Targets Maoist Jungle Stronghold to Win Mining Riches”

Bloomberg Businessweek, March 9, 2015

“The hills above Sinu Tati’s village of Tikanpal in central India are known for two things: one of the world’s largest iron-ore deposits, and a jungle full of Maoist guerrillas who attack anyone trying to mine it.  The district is a weather vane for a conflict that former premier Manmohan Singh called the greatest threat to India’s internal security, one that has killed more than 10,000 people in the past two decades and raged over a third of the country.  It’s also key to current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to modernize India’s economy.  To do that, he needs more minerals.  And to dig the mines he needs to remove the rebels, who attack companies, police stations and mining equipment, wielding everything from bombs to bows and arrows.  Getting rid of the Maoists could unlock $80 billion of investment in eastern and central India, according to a 2010 report by London-based securities house Execution Noble Ltd. … The rebels — known in India as Naxalites after a rebellion in the village of Naxalbari in 1967 — are scattered mostly up and down the mountain and forest villages of the eastern and southern half of the country.  More than 90 percent of the India’s iron-ore deposits and 85 percent of its coal along with a host of other ores, gems and minerals are in areas affected by the insurgency. … The mining area is a security nightmare.  The ore deposits are spread along the top of a mountain range, with service roads and supply routes running through the jungle.  Employees and managers at the site have been told not to talk to outsiders about the Maoist activities, but some said privately that this was a hardship posting and they still feared attacks from the surrounding jungle.  Of 14 known iron deposits, only two are being exploited. … There’s an estimated 1.3 billion tons of iron ore here, enough to supply the U.S. for a quarter of a century.”

Quickie analysis:  Not surprising that Maoist insurgencies can be barriers to modernization.

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