Sans industrial development, better to leave minerals in the ground

The Times of India feature, “Time for a resource rethink” (June 8, 2016), points out the problems of over-fishing and underutilization of the mineral resources in Kerala.

The report says, “There are about 44 rivers in Kerala and the river run-off associated with the rainfall brings fertility to the coastal waters leading to increase in phytoplankton. The abundant food servers as pasture for all age groups of sardine.”

Along with other causes, discharge of polluting effluents into rivers must be a reason for the drastic declines in fish catch along Kerala coast. According to the report, estimated Oil Sardine catch was 720,270 (2012) and 265,667 (2015) tonnes, a decline of 63 per cent. While estimated Penaeid Prawn catch was 252,300 (2012) and 199,195 (2015) tonnes, a decline of 15 per cent. And estimated catch of Ribbon fishes was 234,766 (2012) and 20,659 (2015), a decline of 91.4 per cent. Controlling river pollution will have the added benefit of improving fishery resources in the ocean.

The report says, “The state is yet to make even titanium sponge [2, 3, 4] which would have earned good profits,” said Dr. K Soman, former head of resource and analysis section, National Centre for Earth Science Studies.The value of the mineral resources is not in mining and exporting ore, but in post processing and manufacturing value added products. Therefore, natural resource mining plans must be complemented with industrial development. In addition, effective steps for preventing environmental degradation and pollution must also be taken.

Otherwise, it may be better to leave the mineral resources in the ground.

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