Goa suspends mining trade licences

Move aimed to curb illegal trading in metal ores

 
By Ashwin Aghor
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The Goa government has suspended over 450 mining trade licences in the state in a move aimed at checking illegal trading in metal ores. The action by the mines and geology department follows close on the heels of its director Arvind Loliyekar getting suspended on April 2 amid allegations of ignoring irregularities in iron ore mining in the state.

The traders in the state have been given 15 days to submit the necessary documents to prove they are operating legally. “We will act only against those who are involved in illegal activities. So genuine traders need not to be worried at all,” says Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar. The mining department has also issued notices to the traders who were registered when Assembly elections were on in the state.


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Loliyekar has been replaced by Prasanna Acharya, who was posted as collector of South Goa. Loliyekar's is the first head to roll in connection with rampant illegal mining reported in the state.
 
Parrikar has ordered an inquiry into Loliyekar's role in the alleged illegal mining. "There were several complaints against Loliyekar of inaction against illegal mining; that is why he has been suspended. We will decide in the next two days who will hold the inquiry against him; if he is found guilty, we will take action against him," Parrikar says. The government has also taken action against assistant technical officer in the mines department, Hector Fernandes, by cancelling his tenure extension.

Parrikar has been closely monitoring developments relating to illegal mining in the state. When he was leader of opposition he was heading the public accounts committee (PAC). In its report submitted in October 2011, PAC had accused the mines department of inaction against illegal mining.

Director of mines Acharya says his department has issued notices to suspend trading licenses after obtaining legal opinion from the advocate general of the state, Atmaram Nadkarni. The notices were issued under the Mining Regulation Act.

Sources say the mines and geology department has decided to acquire a software to monitor the operations of iron ore traders in the state. It would be mandatory for all the traders to install the software so that there is not even minor difference between the production and export figures given by Goa Minerals Ore Exports Association and the department. The mining department is also contemplating imposing restrictions on registration of new trucks to be used for mining activities and issue special commercial badges for truck drivers ferrying metal ores. Acharya has directed the mining department staff to organise records and approach mine owners for documents in case they are not available with the department.

Cap on truck permits

As a next step to curb illegal mining, the Goa government has ordered a cap on issuing permits to trucks ferrying iron ore. According to Acharya, the cap on the number of iron ore transporting trucks was necessary to decongest the roads. “We have decided to invoke sections of the Mining Regulation Act to put restrictions and regulate mining traffic," Acharya says.

According to information, over 20,000 dumpers are operating in the state's mining belt, having more than 100 iron ore mines, from which around 56 million tonnes of iron ore is extracted annually.

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