Goa to cancel licences of 40 illegal mines

Mines were operating for over two decades without renewal of mining lease

 
By Ashwin Aghor
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The government of Goa has decided to cancel the licence of 40 mines that have failed to apply for renewal of mining leases. The deadline for filing for lease renewal was 1988. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar announced this in the state Legislative Assembly on July 25. Parrikar said the mines were operating because previous governments did not take action against them.

Parrikar also came down heavily on the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for approving mining without verifying the credentials of applicants. ÔÇ£MoEF has granted clearances to mines which are only on paper. Investigations into such mines will soon be handed over to the crime branch,ÔÇØ he said. During the discussion, he referred to the environmental clearance granted by MoEF to one Imran Khan on July 28, 2007 for the mine at Polo Dongor despite the fact that he did not have title of concession in his name.

Parrikar also said that if any mine is found to be operating illegally, the lease of the same would be cancelled immediately and the case will be handed over to crime branch. ÔÇ£The report given by the Public Accounts Committee on illegal mines will be implemented in the state. Action will also be taken against those who fail to remove overburden as it flows into rivers and eventually into dams,ÔÇØ Parrikar said.

Claude Alvares of non-profit Goa Foundation has welcomed the decision. It is good that Parrikar is trying to bring back legality into mining business in the state, says Alvares. ÔÇ£Former chief ministers did not bother to act against the errant mine operators. Out of the 40 mines, former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane had allowed 30 to operate, while his successor Digambar Kamat gave green signal to the rest of the 10 mines,ÔÇØ he alleges.

Meanwhile, the South Goa district administration has partially lifted the ban on iron ore transportation imposed in March this year, soon after the Parrikar government came to power. The administration has allowed iron ore transportation on Kodli Kapshe road. Sources said that the mine operators in South Goa had demanded the ban be lifted. Sesa Goa had applied for permission for 1,500 trips per day while other three mines, including P Timblo, AX Panandikar and Mineskep, had applied for 715 trips per day.

ÔÇ£The permission to transport iron ore is valid for 15 days and for 500 to 550 trucks only,ÔÇØ says Abhijit Prabhudesai of Goeancha Xetkaryancho Ekvott, a Madgaon-based non-profit. The mining companies would have to comply with several stringent conditions to transport iron ore. For instance, the collector has made it mandatory for the mine operators to provide electronic token issue machine to local police before starting the transportation so that they can monitor the movement of trucks. The movement of trucks will be allowed from 9 am to 12 noon and form 2 pm to 5 pm on the condition that only two trucks will be released every three minutes.

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