SSharing power and resources is fundamental to inclusive democracy and growth, which must be reflected in our resource governance policy. The low standard of living and the persistent backwardness of the people of the state of Odisha are more related to its ownership over the resources and their better utilization for the benefit of its people. Legislative power relating to resource governance is divided into three lists, the Union list, the State list and the concurrent list, in our Constitution which needs to be rethought in the context of globalization and emerging conflicts in the Resource rich states like Odisha which has been deprived of its legitimate rights in many ways.
Odisha has the advantage of natural resources such as land, forest, water, minerals and coastline but how these resources are used for the people of the state and who benefits the most needs to be looked at to secure justice for the state and especially for its marginalized sections.
Despite the resources, a pertinent question is why the state continues to be backward and one of the poorest in the country. It is requested that existing constitutional provisions and laws be reviewed for effective implementation in view of the emerging resource conflicts related to the use and sharing of resources in the country and also within the state among its inhabitants. National and state interests must include its people.
There has been an ongoing debate on resource federalism in the country with a demand for more legislative power to the states in matters of resource governance so that the states can have full freedom over the management and use of these resources. . The nationalization of resources entrusted the ownership of the Center mostly dominated by developed states with influence over the Parliament. Economic liberalization and the privatization of resources have encouraged the centralization of decisions in order to facilitate the transfer of resources without too many administrative problems where the role of the States has been further sidelined and minimized.
There are also incompatible areas between states regarding the allocation of resources between states, such as the sharing of river waters; the Mahanadi River water dispute between Chattisgarh and Odisha is a hot example. In this context, the constitutional provisions of Sections 262 and 263 relating to interstate river or river valley water disputes and interstate coordination are not effectively crafted. As a result, the problem has become even more complicated with regard to the sharing of resources. The privatization of water resources has further aggravated water-related conflicts by placing more emphasis on corporate patronage. There has been competition between state governments to supply water to industries at the expense of agriculture and basic human needs.
The inhabitants of the banks of the river and around the reservoirs do not receive enough water for consumption and public demands for water are never given proper priority by the government.
The other important area is the use and sharing of benefits within regions of the state and between different social groups. It is observed that the national and state interest has not included the common man in the sharing of resources and the benefits derived therefrom, especially with marginalized sections that are historically remote from the resources. Thus, while claiming more power from the state over the governance of resources, it is equally important to see its decentralization within the state and between different social groups; only then does it serve the inclusive national and state interest.
Although land is a subject of the state under article 246 list – II no. 18, the state does not implement the provisions relating to land use planning in resource-rich areas. The Odisha Land Reforms Act 1960 (Section 45) stipulates that 70% of excess village land vested in the government shall be occupied by persons belonging to the SC and ST communities. But this was not implemented. The landless claim land for housing and agricultural land to earn a living, but they are grossly ignored.
Take for example mineral resources such as coal in Odisha which is a national resource and its governance is in the central list under Section 246 (List 54). It has always been said that Odisha is endowed with mineral resources representing a third of the country’s coal deposits, but nationalization and recent privatization have not been beneficial to the state. The state in general and the inhabitants of the coalfields in particular have sacrificed everything for the national interest, but a large poor population does not even have access to adequate drinking water, a plot of land for housing, the means subsistence and other basic human needs. Coal nationalization may be good, but it has in no way been beneficial to the mineral states.
The new legislation for the privatization of the coal sector has given more power to the Coal Block Allocation Centre. Coal royalty and related decisions are made by the Centre. Governance of the coal sector is governed by central laws such as the Coal Zones (Acquisition and Development) Act 1957 and the MMDR Act 1957. It is also a fact that a number of core public sector companies such as MCL, NTPC, Nalco and SAIL are major tenants. How these public sector enterprises exceptionally help the state by sharing its profits while using resources needs to be seriously considered.
The State has virtually no role in terms of mining leases other than to obtain royalties set by the Centre. The state cannot impose any tax on coal or influence the arbitrarily set royalty rate, thereby depriving the states of their true share. The local people who stay in the coal zone have no right to land containing coal deposits and at any time they will be evicted for the national interest. There was no surveying or colonization of the land. Even land in the 5th scheduled areas is being acquired for mining in violation of Supreme Court judgments. Central land laws, such as the SEZ Act 2005 and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, replacing the old law of 1894 on the acquisition of land, further justify that the Center enjoys a privileged position on land resources. . It is also realized that whatever financial resources the state obtains in the form of taxes, water taxes, property taxes and royalties, the benefits do not trickle down further to the local level and do not exclude not the marginalized benefit-sharing group. As a result, resource-rich areas and marginalized sections remain backward and underdeveloped in many ways.