October 1st, 2010
Recently the head of the state professional inspection agency has announced on media that it has suddenly “learnt” that the pollution of Orkhon River is critical and that has “revealed” those guilty. Several companies like “Altan Dornod Mongolia”, “Mongol Gazar”, who mined gold in basins of Ul, Shiirt, Ulaan-chuluut and Ulziit rivers that flows into Orkhon River, has kicked away the ladder and had not taken any actions to rehabilitate the environment or at least repair garbage dam to stop water pollution. Thus, business operation licenses held by these companies will be annulled, said the Agency.
Further, the rehabilitation on the above mine sites will be carried by specialized companies at the government costs, after which the government costs will be compensated by the above guilty companies. The Government is about to approve such costs this week. It is like crying over spilt milk. This is just an example of how the Government fails to do its work. The Government of Mongolia has ceased listening to citizens and now serves not for people but for themselves. Either the officials in central and local governments have no knowledge and skills or they just pretend that they have them.
They inspect, suspend, extort and give to own people the activities associated with the business operation licenses only when they need or at any time they want, which disturbs the stability of Mongolian State. Firstly, Mongolian government does not listen to it citizens and serve only for those with money and wealth, regardless of nationality.
Mongolian people had been demanding the authorities take decisive actions by reminding and warning from very beginning that hundreds of rivers and lakes have polluted and perished, thousand hectares of forest and pastures have been destroyed and hundreds of families has left their native lands that lived for thousands of years in the process of exploitation of gold and other minerals. They shouted until they lost voices, but it was fruitless. The above case that has just been exposed by the professional inspection agency, had been reminded and warned by the people for fifteen years.
The Ongi River Movement was recognized and appreciated not by Mongolian government but by a prestigious international organization in overseas, which awarded the movement with the largest accolade in the world for grassroots environmentalists. Though inhabitants of Tsenkher Soum, Arkhangai Province had fought from the very beginning, the unaccountable government officials, who are obliged to obey to law ‘gave up’ to corruption and let inhabitants left only with ashy grass instead of beautiful river. It is sad that many places in our homeland are becoming just like moon surface. The Government decided that we, taxpayers, must pay for the rehabilitation costs of places, from which foreign and domestic barbarians left these places destroyed to dig gold.
Secondly, before issuing a mineral exploitation license, it should make sure that a fund for environmental rehabilitation is created from very beginning of exploitation.
Such funds are accumulated over many years and spent according to a definite plan. In case if the company is bankrupt or transfers its license to a third party, the purchased company will continue adding money to the fund and when the exploitation completes, the fund’s money is spent for rehabilitation. Industrialized countries require minimum difference when photos before and after exploitation are compared.
In our country, though the public institutions and agencies pass various regulations and normatives related to rehabilitation, they never implement them at any administrative level and now even say that “it is because of a deficiency in legal system” as if they don’t know about that. Only those who took minerals, must rehabilitate the nature they destroyed. Thirdly, when the government activities start to serve for a certain group of people, state controls and inspections are used only for trespassing others’ properties and for removing someone from a post, further deteriorating the principle that the state policy and its implementation must be stable and continued.
Once, the professional inspection agency dug up serious violations in activities of that times’ City administration and the Cabinet was about to discuss about defraud by city officials. This story ended up with the retirement of the Cabinet and the promotion of the city mayor to Prime Minister. Ongoing issue related to the chief of Anti-Corruption Authority might be same as this story.
All issues in Mongolia will depend on how the politicians would deal on with each other. Like this way, the government has become a tool to support political parties and misappropriate mineral resources of Mongolia in a way profitable only for few people. The government actions will never succeed without improving the accountability in government and correcting the above-mentioned three deficiencies and further affecting the country’s security. It is time for present and future politicians to re-think over these problems seriously.
Translated by Shinee