About 11.48 million tonnes of iron ore worth Rs 6,600 crore is lying in various mine lease areas and jetties; money realised will go to compensatory afforestation fund
The Supreme Court has allowed mine lease owners in Goa to conduct electronic auction of iron ore mined before iron ore mining, sale and export was banned in the state in September 2012. After hearing the activists, mine operators and government of Goa, the green bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice A K Patnaik said that auctioning of iron ore would take place under the supervision of a Supreme Court monitoring committee.
According to the affidavit filed by Goa state government, about 11.48 million tonnes of iron ore worth Rs 6,600 crores has been lying stacked in various mine lease areas and jetties across the state. The court in its interim order, however, said the ban on mining and transportation would continue. Similarly, the iron ore to be auctioned would not include iron ore fines which have been found in dumps. According to the findings of M B Shah Commission, and other probes, excess iron ore illegally mined by the companies have been dumped as mine waste near the lease areas.
The Goa government had sought public auction of the mined iron ore. But the court rejected the request, saying better prices for auction of minerals can be realised through electronic auction.
Monitoring committee to oversee e-auction
The green bench ordered the setting up of a monitoring committee comprising three experts who will verify the quantity of ore extracted by mining companies before the mining ban. The committee will list the stock verified lease-wise. The stock will be e-auctioned and the money deposited in a bank account under the control of the committee; disbursement of the money will be subject to the final judgement of the court regarding the validity of the mining leases challenged in the petition.
The order further stated that after deducting taxes and royalty, the committee would deposit the rest of the money as ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in a separate account. The court has asked the committee to submit its report by February 15, 2014. The Court's three-member committee comprises the chief secretary of Goa state (or nominee of the chief secretary not below the rank of joint secretary); U V Singh, additional principal chief conservator of forests of Karnataka and Shaikh Naimuddin, former member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
The Court also announced the setting up of the second committee to examine laying down limits on the production of iron ore from Goa. The committee would comprise an ecologist, a geologist, a forestry expert and a mineralogist. The four-member committee would also have one representative of the Goa government nominated by the chief secretary and one nominee of Union environment ministry.
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