India tribal affairs minister wants say in industrial projects


    (Reuters) – India’s new tribal affairs minister wants the government to consult his ministry before considering any industrial project in a tribal area, which he said could speed up projects by resolving people-displacement issues early.

    “My ministry does not have a say at present on projects in tribal areas,” Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram told Reuters on Wednesday. “Our opinion should be sought before any project is planned in a tribal area.”

    Most of India’s minerals such as coal, iron ore and bauxite lie in tribal areas, and often land is acquired forcibly from them by companies, the minister said.

    The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not compromise the interest of the tribals, despite his pro-business stance, Oram said.

    “Involvement of our ministry will ensure that problems of the tribals are addressed and resolved quickly,” he said.

    But Oram also said he continued his long-standing opposition to a plan by South Korean steelmaker POSCO to build a $12 billion plant in Odisha, his home state. The project, which has stirred local protests, has been delayed nine years. (Additional reporting by Krishna N Das; editing by Jane Baird)