Consent to operate will be withdrawn if mines found extracting excess ore, say officials
The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), on Thursday, resumed hearings relating to violation of environmental clearances and excess mining by 40 iron ore mine owners who were issued notices last week. All the mine lease owners were instructed to produce documents for verification and for checking the validity of environmental clearances issued by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The hearings which commenced on Thursday, will be held on April 13 and 16 as well.
There are 336 valid leases for mining in Goa; 90 mines are operational. The managements of the mining companies were directed to present themselves before the chairperson of GSPCB, Simon D'Souza, in order to make their submissions and explain why legal action should not be initiated against them for violating the Water (Prevention And Control Of Pollution) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention And Control Of Pollution) Act of 1981.
The process of issuing notices and verification documents began last year and notices were issued to 60 mining lease holders. During the first hearing held in October 2011, 48 lease holders sought more time to furnish details. Hearing has already been conducted for 20 mine owners. The process was stopped due to enforcement of the model code of conduct for the recently concluded Goa Assembly elections.
As many as 24 mining companies, accused of excess ore extraction, were given a hearing on April 11. According to information, 16 mining companies are accused of continuing mining operations on the basis of environment clearances issued in 1994 which are not valid now.
GSPCB officials say if any mine owner is found violating the consent to operate order, which specifies the limit for extracting metal ore, then the same would be revoked.
Mapusa-based NGO Goa Foundation has, meanwhile, filed a public interest petition in the High Court of Bombay at Goa on excess production of ore in violation of conditions of environmental clearances.
Once the pollution board completes the hearing proceedings, it will submit a report on the hearings to the high court. Goa Foundation, in its petition had alleged that the environmental clearances issued to the mining companies were no more valid and also pointed out that the export figures of the companies prove that the mine operators have moved beyond the permitted area limit of excavation.