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goa's Madei and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries may finally be rid of the illegal mining menace soon. The Central Empowered Committee (cec) -- constituted by the Supreme Court (sc) under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 -- recently ordered the closure of mines in the area.
Though the order is yet to be implemented, a state government official disclosed: "The file has been submitted to the concerned authorities and the chief minister will issue the final instructions to stop mining operations." The cec's directive came in response to an application filed by the Goa Foundation, an environmental monitoring group.
The Madei and Netravali sanctuaries were notified in 1999. They provide a corridor for wildlife movement from the northern part of the state to its south. Additionally, the two wildlife havens facilitate the passage of animals from Goa to Karnataka and vice-versa.
"Netravali has 11 working iron ore mines and 17 other illegal manganese ore mines," points out Goa Foundation director Claude Alvares, adding: "Madei has two operational mines." Alvares alleges that the state government is trying to denotify the sanctuaries to legitimise mining. This indeed appears to be the authorities' game plan. "Permission is being sought for resurveying the area, and a case is pending in the sc," reveals the state government official.
A few months back, the Goa Foundation had also written to Union minister of environment and forests T R Baalu. "Since no action was taken, we approached the cec," explains Alvares. The panel will again hear the matter shortly. The sc had banned mining in wildlife parks and sanctuaries in its February 14, 2000, judgement.